A Very, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

It’s 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Usually, I would be in Tuscaloosa, napping on my grandparents’ couch after baking all morning. We’d be preparing for the entire Brewer/Hood family to pile in the home that my mom grew up in. The count would normally be from 25-30 people, 6 or more dogs, and one cat that wouldn’t show up until after everyone left. Normally, I would have already opened all of my gifts from Santa because he always came to our house a week early so that we could be with our grandparents on Christmas Day.

But this Christmas is different. It’s different because we’re all grown up. My dad and brother both had to work this morning and will go in Friday as well. I just returned from a work trip to south Florida, and I’ll be working from home Friday as well. The gifts are all wrapped under the tree still, and my grandmother has significantly fewer mouths to feed on Christmas Day.

It’s bittersweet. I am so thankful to be home for the holidays this year in my own bed. But I will miss the family meal and white elephant games in Tuscaloosa. I logged on to Facebook last night to find out my best friend from grade school got engaged, several of my friends are accepting full-time jobs and internships, and I’m talking with agencies hundreds of miles away from home. In all honesty, it’s been really hard to get in the Christmas spirit this year. I’ve had all my gifts purchased for a few weeks now. I’ve watched all the movies, drank hot chocolate, been to Christmas parties, and even hosted one myself. My tree has been decorated in my apartment since before Thanksgiving, but Christmas just isn’t the same this year.

I welcomed Christmas break with open arms this year after a trying semester and a schedule full for next. But work never stopped, school never stopped, and here I am, still working, on Christmas Eve. My family has done everything the same. I have done everything the same. But Christmas is just different this year.

I asked for a few things, most of which I picked out with mom in the store, but there’s really not anything I really need or even really want. All of the things I am getting are all “nice to have” gifts that I’m still thankful for, but I’m very aware that they are things this year.

The Brewer/Hood family isn’t the only Christmas celebration with empty chairs this year. The closer Christmas has come, the more aware I’ve been of a hole in my heart. My grandmother is still on my mind, especially with a family holiday being tomorrow.

Someone sent my grandfather an anonymous gift the week before last in the mail. It was an ornament with a poem. It reads:

I still hear the songs, I still see the lights, I still feel your love on cold wintery nights. I still share your hopes and all of your cares, I’ll still remind you to please say your prayers. I just want to tell you you still make me proud. You stand head and shoulders above all the crowd. Keep trying each moment to stay in His grace, I came here before you to help set your place. You don’t have to be perfect all of the time,’ He forgives you the slip if you continue the climb. To my family and friends, please be thankful today. I’m still close beside you In a new special way. I love you all dearly, now don’t shed a tear, Cause I’m spending my Christmas with Jesus this year. 

I’m thankful to that person who sent this gift. My grandfather has it sitting on the mantle and shows everyone that walks through the door. He actually got the tree out after he received it because he knows “she would have wanted it this way.” I’m thankful, too, because it reminds me that she’s not missing anything. Rather, she has a better view and is celebrating with the One who made this holiday.

This Christmas isn’t really different, every material thing is the same. I’m just very, very aware of hurting hearts this year. Perhaps because mine is still healing.

The Lord has been good to me this year. He extended my grandmother’s life 4 months more than the doctors expected, allowing me, my brother, my cousin, and my dad and his brother to spend more time with the little woman who brought us all together. He blessed me with an incredible internship that not only provided professional experience, but that provided the finances that will be used so I can experience an internship across the country this summer. He blessed me with love, but also with a reminder that He has a better plan. He blessed me with supportive friends that have made this year extra special, and new friends that I can’t imagine my life without now. He blessed me with an education at a top tier school for public relations and the opportunity to obtain two degrees in my four years. He afforded me the opportunity to write a thesis and conduct an independent study. He blessed me with a loving brother, an overprotective dad, and a mom who is my best friend. He has ended relationships, formed new ones, and made old ones bloom brighter and better. He has gifted me with professors, advisors and connections that I never knew were  possible and opportunities beyond my wildest dreams. He has connected me with my dream agency and continues to have perfect timing everyday. Through the trying times, He held my hand, dried my tears and is continuing to heal my heart. The Lord has been good to me this year.

My thoughts are with those celebrating the holidays with fewer people this year than last. I’m praying for healed hearts because it hard when your hurting during the holidays. I can only imagine the opportunities 2015 will bring. I’m thankful for the opportunities, the love, the heart ache, and even the pain of 2014 because I know I am a better person for it. I hope 2014 treated you well, and that 2015 treats you better.

So Merry Christmas from me and my family. We appreciate the prayers, love and support you have all shown this year. We hope you have a very, merry Christmas and a happy New Year!