"The First Christmas without You" ~ by Jayne Post
The end of the year came as it always did. First there was Halloween, all I could do was remember your precious little face and each Halloween costume you wore through the years. You were a pirate, a zombie and a cheetah. I handed out candy that first Halloween but my heart was not in it. Each trick-or-treater reminded me that you were gone. Each undead costume reminded me that you were really dead. Only 16 years old you left the earth too soon. The hole in my heart could not be filled. What was I going to do without you? My weekly counseling sessions were helping me grieve appropriately and thoroughly, but I still had to live in a world that was now without my son.
Halloween gave way to Thanksgiving, one of our family's most favorite of holidays. I was grateful for so many things but anguished at the thought of the empty chair at the table. I busied myself and made Thanksgiving about others, perhaps I could fill the void and the chair with other people and forget for a day that you were not here. I bought the turkey and pies and we made all the fixings. I almost lost myself in it until after the Thanksgiving meal when I noticed the pumpkin pie sat alone. Pumpkin pie was your favorite. I bought it out of habit not remembering that you were the only one who liked it. I wrapped the pie with tears in my eyes and left it in the fridge until Christmas in silent protest.
My heart ached as Christmas approached. I didn't want to have Christmas this year. Couldn't I just go to sleep and wake up in January? I delayed getting the Christmas decorations out. Maybe if I didn't decorate Christmas would go away. But a still small voice grabbed my attention, "Christmas is not about your son, it is about mine." I knew what I would have to do. I got out the decorations and started to decorate. It was December 20th, three weeks after I normally decorate and only 5 days before Christmas. Each ornament and trimming I pulled out of the boxes reminding of Christmases past and how you would no longer be a part of them, I turned on Christmas music to fight the melancholy. I remembered that God sent His Son for me and because my son believed, he would be spending his first Christmas with Jesus. My treasure was in heaven. I smiled and cried. I missed Paul so very much. It was bittersweet. I didn't decorate for anyone but Jesus that year. I decorated in pain and in obedience. As the rooms started to take shape, I noticed I was feeling a little better. When I was done, I sighed and sat back on the sofa with all the twinkling lights around me. It felt warm and familiar. As I sat there, our teenage roommate came downstairs. He had been homeless and we had taken him in for a few months. "Wow Mrs. Post, I have never seen anyone decorate like this, it's beautiful!" I said, "thank you Cash." He continued, "I didn't think you would be having Christmas this year with your son gone and all." As he looked down, I looked at him and said, "It's about God's Son not mine, it's Jesus' birthday Cash. God gave me His Son, I have to learn to give him mine." I spent the next hour explaining God's grace and love to that young man who had been a friend of my son's. He had been on the outs with his parents and had rebelled, that is how he found himself homeless. I explained how God's Son Jesus was a gift that was free and available to anyone who received Him. That I was certain my son was in Heaven because he had received the gift of eternal life many years earlier. That while I was sad, I still had joy because of God. I asked Cash if he would like to accept the "gift". He nodded, yes. We held hands and prayed. That teenager's eternal life was changed that night and so was mine. In obedience I decorated my home, but in an act of grace, God decorated my heart . . . "for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." ~ Matthew 6:21
* a footnote from Jayne ~ "As a pastor, it is my heartfelt prayer that if you are struggling with grief this season, you would seek professional counseling. When we feel like we are drowning, we need a lifeguard. My prayer is that you would reach out of your darkness and touch the light."
* about our guest writer . . .
Jayne Post is the Co-Senior Pastor of Sin City Church, a new church plant in Henderson, Nevada. She has been married for 26 years and has 4 grandchildren with one on the way.
She has written a book along with co-author, Kayla Gilmore, about her ordeal with the sudden death of her son Paul. "No Future Without" is a fictional book with a parallel universe on forgiveness and based on a true story. To purchase a copy, click here.
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