It was two years ago.

I gazed at the twinkling lights on my Christmas tree and with a sudden pang realized that it would be the first Christmas tree that Jer and I had ever ever had  that his Dad would not see. It was a strange thought that hit me out of nowhere. Not that our tree was much different than any of the other years – a couple more ornaments, but the same theme.

 It was a season of firsts; a season of finding our footing in the new “normal” of our lives. There was a big piece of the puzzle missing and we were discovering ways of moving forward. 

 It wasn’t just Dad’s death that Christmas. There were a million other difficult things happening in my life in that season. A mountain of worries and concerns and battles that I was fighting both personally and for others.  It was a tough time and one that I felt truly lonely in.

 Christmas is my favourite time of year by far. I LOVE Christmas shopping.   I love the lights, the bling, the beautiful Christmas paper, the colourful ribbons. My heart literally leaps as I round the corner near my mall because I KNOW there will be tons of beauty, smiling faces, laughing children.   Wild, chaotic, mesmerizing fun everywhere.

 But that Christmas, for a split second, I wondered if I was in the Christmas “spirit”. I wondered if I felt like celebrating. I was talking to someone who was going through some dark waters herself and she said, “I was going to put up my decorations and I just decided not to, because I wasn’t in the Christmas spirit.” I nodded in understanding and empathy. I wondered if I should convince her to put up some stuff around her house anyways – no matter what she was going through – but for what purpose? Her life was in a difficult season right then. Why can’t she just skip Christmas altogether this year and get to the part where she gets through this difficult season? I totally understood her pain.

But suddenly it hit me; something that I had forgotten just for a moment.   She needed to decorate. She needed to put stuff up around her house. She needed to celebrate. And I needed to too.

 Why? Because even though our lives were going through some painful times, even though our hearts felt like giant boulders stuck in our chest –  though it seemed hard to hang on to anything that will hold our souls – there is a reason that we celebrate Christmas season. There is a reason that we do ALL of this.

Sometimes, in the busy-ness of the season and in the crazy adventures we find ourselves on, we forget.  Truly forget. It’s not about the lights, and the bling and the presents. And it’s not because we need to get gifts or because we need a giant month long interruption in our lives. It’s not because we need to spend money that we don’t have.

 It’s because we need to remind our selves that no matter how hard life gets – we always have hope. That’s what Christmas is all about. Christmas is about hope. Christmas is about a Mom and Dad cradling a tiny baby in the crook of their arms – that came to earth to save the world. It is about a God who left a perfect world to step into a fallen world and give them hope. There is always hope because there is always God.

 That day I chose faith instead of fear. I chose hope instead of doubt. I chose beauty instead of ashes.

 This year, if it just seems too hard to get through the day; if the world around you seems hopeless, come a little closer. Close your weary eyes and picture a baby born for you. Picture an innocent baby that came into a guilty world to give you hope.

 If you can only light a candle, do that. If you can only put some music on, do that. Find something to do to celebrate His hope. Because that is what it is all about…

He came for me.

He came for you.