Merry Christmas

I am signing off until after Christmas--today is Nick's last day in the office for a few days and I plan on soaking in my family while we're all home.

I wanted to leave you with a couple thoughts as many of us enter into a time of gatherings and merry-making.

I recently learned of more than a couple people just outside of our circle who have either attempted or succeeded in taking their lives. This is on the heels of other heartbreaking and higher-profile suicides this year.

In almost all of the cases, the people were successful, had families, and appeared to "have it all." It's been a reminder to be a little kinder because you never know what's going on with someone below the surface.

I was recently in the shop of a successful business owner. I asked him how his Thanksgiving was, and he told me he was alone for it. His wife passed away, and he didn't have anyone else to share the holiday with.

Holidays are extra hard for lots of people for lots of different reasons--loneliness, hard family situations, mental health--and the idea that they should be a perfect, joyful time of togetherness adds to the difficulty, I think.

Do you know what the kindest thing anyone has ever done for me?

When I was a brand-new mother, I suffered from horrible insomnia. I would get up in the night with my new baby, feed her, and then lay awake the entire rest of the night. I felt like the only person in the world who was awake, and the only person in the world who had that problem. There were some nights I would get a total of two hours of sleep, and it was a crippling, desperate time for me.

My mom told me that if I was ever up in the night and needed to talk to someone, I could send her a text and she would get up and call me. So there were nights when I would do just that, and we would both lay awake on our couches and talk in whispered tones. I don't remember what we talked about, but I remember feeling comforted that I wasn't the only person in the world who was awake.

Nick and I were having a conversation (disagreement) awhile ago about a hypothetical situation in which someone was passing through this area on Christmas and would they stay with us and be with us on Christmas morning?

I instantly became stressed by the thought and was resistant to the idea. Christmas morning is for the five of us and is supposed to be a magical time where we make memories as a nuclear family! Nick, being the better human than I, reminded me that we have an open door policy in this house, and if we can't open our doors on Christmas then what's the point?

Of course, I stand corrected and am embarrassed about my attitude. It's so easy to get caught up in the pervasive myth that Christmas "should" be something other than a celebration of our Savior's birth.

Because I have so extravagantly been welcomed into God's eternal family, having done nothing to deserve it, how much more should I welcome others into my imperfect earthly family? Enduring a little bit of extra inconvenience and putting my comfort aside, and doing it graciously, doesn't always come easily, and it's so easy to make excuses for why I shouldn't have to.

I hope this Christmas season we can all be on the lookout for those shop owners who might be alone, those desperate, sleep-deprived new mothers, or those who appear to have it all but are living in silent desperation. Let's reach beyond our comfort zones, be a little kinder than necessary, and make it a little brighter for those who need the light.

Wishing you and yours a Christmas filled with joy, peace, and an awareness of your countless blessings.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

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