I pulled up to the mailbox yesterday and opened the door. For a split second I imagined a small box from West Virginia with homemade deer jerky and a handwritten note from my Uncle Arnold. It was always around this time of year that a box would mysteriously appear in the mail. It was such a simple gesture, but so special.
As I pulled the stack of bills out of the mailbox, instead, tears fell down my cheeks. While we are spending our first Christmas here on earth without Uncle Arnold, he is spending his first one in heaven. I know he has the better view, but he left quite a hole here on earth.
Some of my fondest summer memories as a teenager involved my uncle. My grandparents took us with them to a campground in West Virginia for several weeks during the summers and we always ended up hanging out with Uncle Arnold and Aunt Phyllis. We spent countless hours playing basketball, goofing off in the woods, and relaxing in hammocks by the creek. To this day, when I get stressed, I can close my eyes and hear the serene babbling of that creek and feel the peaceful motion of those hammocks. I’m pretty sure heaven will be a lot like that special place.
Christmas time is such a complicated season. It’s the time we celebrate Jesus and all he did for us by becoming a sinless human on this earth. But it is also a time for family; and in some cases, family evokes a lot of different and hard emotions.
As we celebrate this season, tears of sadness may come and we may feel the urge to retreat from life. We may find ourselves getting lost in the overwhelming emotions of missing those who are already gone or even pre-mourning those who are aging or absent in our lives. But we need to remember that the most important gift we can give to those we love is the power of presence. We need to be present; physically and emotionally.
It’s okay to remember our special loved ones. As a matter of fact, I have typed most of this through blurry tears as I remember my special Uncle. But as we remember, let’s make sure we let others into our world and that we are present with the ones we can still hug and hold. We have old memories that can be cherished, but we also have new memories that need to be made. Let’s make room for them all.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: … a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…” Ecc. 3:1, 4