Blogmas Day 18: Family Day at Grammy's + Embracing New Seasons
While reading, listen to Seasons by Hillsong Worship.
Can you believe Christmas is less than a week away?
My siblings are one by one returning home as school is put on pause, and the long awaited Christmas break begins. Extended family members are getting time off work, their sick and holiday days compounding, giving them a much-needed break. And as the rest of the world is picking up the pace, crowding malls, roads, grocery stores, and airports, mine seems to be slowing down. The Christmas shopping is complete, all holiday church parties are over, and though we are anticipating Christmas Eve service this Sunday, things feel more manageable, less manic. We’re all spending more time together...doing fun, festive things, and enjoying the ordinary moments too.
This season is joyful, but Christmas can also highlight the pain of what has changed or been lost.
Over the last few years, my Grandpa, or “Popa” as we call him, has been living in a convalescent home. His alzheimer’s has been a steep, winding road of emotion, for him and for all of us. You’re never quite prepared to watch someone you love slip away, and alzheimer’s really robs a person of their ability to consciously live. There, in his chair, sits my Popa...but the Popa I have always known and loved is not there. His mind has changed, deteriorated over time, and his body is following suit. These years of adjustment and grief have had their ups and downs, moments when Popa seems to be there after all, visits when you swear he looked at you and really saw you, but then there are the other ones. When you know you’re just a stranger. Those are much more difficult to manage.
During this time, my Grammy has demonstrated a beautiful, selfless love. Though he lives, she has lost her life partner of over 50 years in countless ways, and now occupies the home they built on her own. She visits him everyday, makes sure he is being taken care of, and has left quite the impression on the whole staff. They love her, she prays for them, and she has found a real fulfillment in being a part of their lives.
For as long as I have known Grammy, she's had a gift for raising the faith of others. This difficult season has only increased her intimacy with God, because she decided it would, and her trust in him has grown beyond measure. She finds real joy in his presence, and is filled with the love and affection her soul desperately longs for. Though it has been heartbreaking for us all, to see things change and take a turn down a road we never imagined we’d walk, we still have so much. God is faithful. Grammy continues to graciously open her home to many, welcoming them in with her warm hugs, and striking hospitality.
Together, and in Christ, we remain strong and connected as ever.
I consider it a privilege to be Grammy and Popa’s granddaughter, and I know it is a true gift to share my faith and love for Jesus in common with them both. Whenever we can, we gather around her table, to eat, pray, share, and laugh. As we all embrace this new season, we invite the priceless memories of the past to fuel the making of ones to come. Not a single day is promised, and we intend on living each one in love and on purpose.
And since we serve a God who “turns all things together for good” (Romans 8:28), a new, wonderful Christmas tradition has brought connection and light out of pain. Together, we gather in Grammy’s kitchen...we bake her famous Christmas cookies, and we relish in her home being filled with loved ones and laughter. Grammy decorates her home so beautifully, so it deserves to be celebrated and admired. Her kitchen should be filled with those she treasures, especially at Christmas. We decorate and bake airplane-shaped cookies in honor of our former Airman, Popa, and make the most of having each other.
Perhaps your Christmas has a shadow side too.
You are enjoying the festive season with all of your might, but the pain of change and loss feels heavy on your heart. You’re not alone. Life, beautiful, ever-changing, unpredictable life, gives us the good and the bad. Each, an opportunity to discover something new and precious about God, and to become stronger and wiser than we’ve ever been.
Loss can connect us to the pain and experiences of others too, increasing the sense of community and belonging we feel. Nothing is wasted, and no matter what you are going through, hope awaits in the midst and on the other side. Things may not be the same as they were, but what joy and life could be found in the here and now? What potential exists in this new season you are navigating? Throughout this post, I’ve included some lyrics from Seasons by Hillsong Worship, from their new Christmas album. These words are so powerful, as they remind us we serve a God who is with us in every season. He sees seed through to sequoia, he keeps his promises in the winter, his harvest is rich, and his love is great.
Don’t we need these reminders? These words of truth are for you today, so take hold of them. Christmas is nearly here, let's lean into hope.
Hope is the heart of God, and hope looks like the courage of Grammy...to take on the unknown with bravery, love, and a keen sense that time is a precious gift, not to be wasted.
Have you made any new Christmas memories this year? How do you lean into hope during difficult seasons? Share in the comments below! Merry Christmas, see you tomorrow for Blogmas Day 19!