I was driving home this evening after picking up some things from the store... I was taking the back roads looking at Christmas lights and picking my favorite house. It was mindless, no real thinking, no emotion involved... just driving and looking. A song came on the radio, one that I have sung my whole life... It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. I listened, probably for the first time to some of the words and found myself getting negative and cynical... One verse says "and the tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago..." and all I could think of was how my stories of Christmases long ago are all of someone I use to be... someone whose heart had never been stung by deaths sting. Someone who had no idea that people actually hurt because of the holidays. The only stories I have been telling myself lately are the stories of Christmases I should be having... Of what I believe my life should look like on Christmas. It should be of three children squealing with delight at the presents under the tree... there should be three little bottoms up in the air as the kids try to identify which gifts belong to them. It would probably be the first Christmas Declan would be excited for his gifts and the first holiday he might remember... It should be something different and looking back at past 'Christmas glories' only serve as a reminder to how much I have changed. Then I heard "and hearts will be glowing when loved ones are near..." and all I could think of was 'what about when loved ones aren't near?' What do our hearts do then? How do we, as grieving, hurting, broken people fit into this season of celebration? How do we shake the pain and put on a smile? How do we re-find our Christmas joy? I think back over the past few Christmases since losing our sweet Declan and I am struck how hard I work to 'survive' this time of the year. I have always loved the holidays... it's always been special and it still is... but lately the tears come easy and often, the ache for my baby heightens and I am stuck with the simple truth that this is what it is... this is the life I have. As I find my way to a place of contentment and acceptance during the holiday season, I try to focus on the reason for the season. Jesus... His birth and what it means for me. Had God not sent His Son, I would not have the HOPE, nor the peace of mind, that I will be reunited with Declan someday. That this is not where I belong and the hurt is temporary. Is Christmas the most wonderful time of the year... in many ways it is... yet for some of us, it's an internal battle. It's mentally and physically exhausting fighting against my grief, but that's what I am doing... choosing to experience JOY ... because my living children deserve to look back on 'glories of Christmases long ago' and remember their mom, not as a passive feature in the back ground, but as someone who actively experiences her sadness, while loving harder, giving more and remembering the reason for this wonderful (and often difficult) time of year.