December 21st is upon us- the winter solstice, the first day of winter, the shortest day of the year or whatever you want to call it. For Emma, it means four more sleeps till Santa comes. I am grateful for this despite the loss around her. We had to say goodbye to her baby brother almost 18 weeks along in my belly a little over a year ago.
So many I know have lost people so special to them around the holidays including my dad who lost his father at Christmas before I was even born. Four people I know have had to say goodbye to their fathers just this past week and another friend to their grandmother. Many are reaching the first year since losing a loved one and many more are still trying to find joy in the holidays without someone so precious at their side.
The ornament depicting my last day with my sister at my mom’s 60th birthday party is always the first ornament to go on the tree!
This time of year brings a mix of emotions for so many. The joy of seeing a child hug Santa and the wonder of a baby looking at the twinkling Christmas lights are some you never forget. Then there is the newspaper article saying that they have a shortage of toys for donation programs or images of a terrorist attack at a Christmas market. The emptiness in your heart of not being able to carry on a holiday tradition with a loved one mixes with the love you feel seeing the holiday cards from friends and family hanging on your wall.
The distance between friends and family is also hard. This year is especially hard without being with any of our immediate family on Christmas morning. Originally, AJ’s parents were going to fly in for the holiday, but medical issues are keeping them for doing so. But, we are counting our blessings that everything will be fine and that we will get to see them in February in Florida.
Today on my Timehop, a picture came up of Emma with her bestie Maggie making cookies two years ago. The time we had together in Colorado is something I will always cherish. Maggie and Emma were inseparable and Maggie’s mother Jobea and I grew very close too. They moved back near family in Wisconsin last fall. We text often and see them whenever we head up to Lake Geneva, WI. But, the distance especially at this time of year resonates. I feel like seeing memories like these help to bring back the good times we had together that I am ever so thankful for.
Perhaps, this explains why doing nice things for others has become so important to me this time of year. The thought of bringing joy to a person (most likely a stranger) even if it is for a short period of time during the holidays makes my heart full inside.
I felt like writing this post really just to lay out how I feel around this time of year. I’m sure I’m not alone, and I hope as you read these words you also find comfort.
Tidings of comfort and great joy to you!
Courtney, AJ and Emma
My stories and photos from the National Parks (and more)
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