Bittersweet Christmas

The Christmas season is upon us! Colorful lights adorn houses and Christmas trees can be seen twinkling inside front windows. People are shopping around the clock… And heart-wrenching stories of families in need fill inboxes and airwaves.

Christmas is bittersweet for me. It was my mom’s favorite holiday. I remember listening to her playing carols and hymns on the piano, singing along. I enjoy all of the memories, but the ache of missing her is a little stronger during this time of year.

It’s also bittersweet because I enjoy giving gifts to family and friends, but there are so many people who can’t even give to their own children. I feel guilty when I think about all of Charlotte’s clothes and toys. She doesn’t want for anything.

Just this week, I learned about three different families that need necessities for their children – clothing, shoes, blankets and beds. It’s hard to hear about babies not having a crib to sleep in, and older kids sleeping on the floor so the other children can have a bed. Shane and I are giving to each family the best we can. I know I’ll learn of more families as we near Christmas, and I’ll find a way to give something then, too.

Some people might consider me weak. Or see my empathy as harmful to myself. They may right, but I learned from my mom who took extra coats, gloves and hats to school so all of her students would be warm. And she learned from her parents who to this day give more than what they keep for themselves.

Christmas is bittersweet because I am reminded of hardships and blessings. I see struggling families, but a community rises to the occasion to them.

One day, I hope my daughter is plagued by bittersweet Christmases. I hope she is blessed as much as I am – if not more. I hope that her Christmas is filled with joy as she gives to those in need while still giving to loved ones. One day, she just might tell her daughter about her “weak” mother who learned empathy from her mother and so on and so on…

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