Santa broke my heart last week.
While my husband searched for a parking space at a popular Sunday brunch spot, my friend and I went to find a table. We entered the dining room, stunning with Christmas décor, and I noticed a man, elegantly dressed as Santa, standing nearby. In a very adult and worldly manner, I stopped to shake his hand and say hello.
To my surprise he tenderly covered my hand with his, looked deeply into my eyes, and in a voice and tone as familiar as that of an old family friend said, “My, my, look at you—all grown up.” Uninvited, the orphaned child within sprang to life and squeezed my heart hard with longing for family and parents laid to rest years ago. I brushed away tears threatening to splatter my blouse with mascara stains, bid Santa a hasty farewell, and dashed to the ladies room.
In that moment I was reminded how death, separation, and a major loss of any kind forever changes the landscape of our lives, and how the newly carved and empty spaces can seem particularly dark and deep at this time of year. While others are “rushing home with their treasures” some of us have no heart for shopping. Traditions, ornaments, songs and smells which once brought joy can now foster feelings of sorrow and longing. Not every Christmas is white. Some a very blue.
Phone calls, cards and packages cannot replace the arms of a loved one holding you close or the longing in your heart to be near them. I remember Christmases when those feelings were greatly intensified knowing my husband, deployed to the Middle East, was also standing in harm’s way. And I remember too the Christmas there was a hearse in the driveway. Let me share something with you about that time.
A huge blow-up Frosty the Snowman was standing in our neighbor’s yard when my mother-in-law, a hospice patient in our home, passed away. The air was perfectly still and cold that day, but as the hearse passed by a breeze lifted Frosty’s arm, and it looked as if he waved good-bye to Mom. That made me smile, and I think that was a good thing.
In times of grief, with no disrespect intended, if you can chuckle or smile just a little, it breaks the spell of darkness and despair. It’s rather like a hug around the shoulders from the Lord saying, “It’s going to be okay.”
Psalm 43:5 reminds us that when we’re feeling down and disturbed within, as we put our hope for mended hearts and trust in God for better days to come, we can find moments of comfort and joy in the bluest of Christmases’.
I pray all your days will be merry and bright this Christmas, and any tears shed will only be happy ones. Whatever the case, remember, Maybelline and Mary Kay make great waterproof mascaras.