In the Taco Cabana drive-through,”O Come O Come Emmanuel” played through the car speakers. The first Christmas song of the season.
“This is my favorite Christmas song,” I said.
“It’s my favorite, too,” Zach said.
Each time it plays, my eyes well up and sleeping emotions wake to swirl and transport me to another time and place. I go back to December 2010 when Christmas became real to me for the first time.
Back in December 2010, I graduated from the University of Montana and faced a holiday season unlike any I’d ever experienced. Mom and Dad were separated; the divorce was in progress. It was the darkest holiday season of my life.
To feel torn between two halves of yourself is painful. The desperate need to please, love, and encourage both sides leaves you feeling incapable and somehow guilty. Though the pain is less sharp today, each holiday season resurrects its memory. They say trauma does that to you, and sadly the holidays are a tough time for a lot of people. Maybe it’s because the holidays are meant to draw you closer to your loved ones. If there’s divorce, death, or estrangement in the family, it can be tough to embrace that cheesy, nostalgic holiday cheer.
That dark Christmas of 2010, the theme at Easthaven Baptist Church was “Emmanuel: God with Us.” That simple truth illuminated my dark and crumbling world. God’s promise reverberated loud and clear: He was with me. In the aftermath of tragedy, He was with me. When my world turned unfamiliar and foreign, He was with me.
Suddenly, homemade Christmas decorations, strings of lights, gifts, and the usual hoopla associated with Christmas did not matter. All that mattered was Christ, God’s gift to us.
It’s all that matters each day, even when you write a Monday blog on a Tuesday afternoon.
Needless to say, I haven’t fully transitioned back into the swing of things since Thanksgiving Break. But, I’m happy to report it was the happiest Thanksgiving Break I’ve experienced since the dissembling of my family. God never abandons us and is always at work to heal the broken places. Just as there is a time to mourn, there is a time for joy. I feel joy returning each day.
Truly, we can have daily joy if we know Christ. And when pain or a painful memory seeks to overshadow our joy, we can turn to Christ and remember “Emmanuel: God with Us.”
May God bless you throughout the holiday season. I will not publish in the month of December. Starting this January, I will reveal a new format, a new title, and a fresh focus for my blog. It is with a full heart that I thank you for supporting Muse Mondays at the start of each week. Your encouragement means more than you’ll ever know.
Photo Credit: Zach Raygoza, Swan Range at Thanksgiving