As we enter into this Holiday Season we do so with heavy hearts in our family. My sister-in-law is fighting an illness and the recent Doctor’s report was not filled with good news. She is a mom to four amazing children, a wife, pastor, volunteer and all around giving person. The news came as a shock of reality to all of us and each one has handled that differently. We’ve processed through the natural questions around how can this be happening we’ve all tried to find our place of supporting them through this and have now reached the place of just being sad.
How do we reconcile this sadness with the joy of this Holiday Season? I struggle with looking ahead to gorging ourselves on turkey and side dishes or ripping through those beautiful wrapped Christmas gifts knowing what my sister in law and family are going through every day. How can we celebrate when there is this great sense of sadness behind it all not knowing if next year’s celebration will look the same way?
The Holidays are not going to stop because we are sad.
In fact, life in general is not going to stop because we carry this sadness — there is still life to live. Despite this recent negative report my sister in law still has breath in her lungs and life to live. None of us are promised tomorrow and we have to find a way to honor today.
This week we will get together to share a meal of Thanksgiving. One of our family traditions is going around the dinner table taking turns sharing what we are thankful for. Without a doubt, someone always says they are thankful for good health, yet this year that is something we can not say. I have a feeling that the thankfulness we offer up around the table will be marked by the sadness we all carry.
Yet when it comes down to it isn’t it the thankfulness in spite of the sadness that makes it the most beautiful? It’s not just thankfulness that everything is going right that we are all living lives of health and sunshine and roses. It’s thankfulness in the face of the health crisis, financial strains, heartache, and sadness. When we choose thankfulness in the midst of the pain it takes the power out of the grasp of sadness.
To my sister in law, you are beautiful! As your body and hair thins in response to this illness that has taken over your strength and spirit shine ever bright. I don’t always know how to support you, your husband who I affectionally refer to as “Nerdo” or my dear nieces and nephew but I won’t stop trying. You are not alone in this, you carry your family with you into each appointment and treatment and we carry you in our prayers. We will not stop praying for a miracle! I love you.
We will also not let our sadness over this steal the Holiday season from you and your children. I vow that we, your family members, will overeat, overspend, choose thankfulness and make memories perhaps even more so this year than in the past.
No, the Holidays are not going to stop for our sadness. We will still gather as a family, still carry out our typical traditions and we will do so with Joy. It’s my hope that this year is one for the books, that the sadness we carry into this season would help us to consciously make the most of today and choose thankfulness not in spite of our circumstances, but because of them.