Christmas tears are as much a part of my tradition as vintage decorations, my fetish for dipping things in almond bark, homemade peanut butter cups, Gramma's rolled out sugar cookies and Alice's spritz cookies.
I've realized tears are not always a bad thing, they are a healthy acceptance of the truth of the Scriptures that suffering and joy always walk hand in hand in life. Christmas is a special time with the aura of happiness, giving, family, love, gratitude and faith spilling over for Christians. It is also a time when tears can spill over, mingling that joy with sorrow.
I first experienced the sorrow of Christmas as a young girl. I caught my Mom crying quietly in a corner somewhere. As a young child, enthralled with the treats, lights, company and PRESENTS, I couldn't imagine any reason to cry during the whole month of December. Our Christmases were magical, with Mom and Dad's wonderful fingers baking, crafting, decorating, shopping and wrapping.
She simply explained that she missed her parents. Her Dad was aging quickly, arthritis and the years of working outdoor construction in North Dakota had changed her strapping, strong father, into a frail man tucked inside a woolen blanket.
I've always been thankful she shared that with me, because I carried that understanding with me the rest of my life. Years later, I was sitting in my kitchen alone, listening to the bustle of my lively bunch of kids, but quietly crying because I missed my parents and my siblings. I fully understood my Mom's heart.
Christmas tears come for a variety of reasons.
We cry for those that have passed on and will never again celebrate with us.
We cry for those that are just too far away to join us.
We cry because present fiery trials can keep us from totally rejoicing in the festivities.
The pain can be so deep we may not even want to celebrate the holiday. As beleivers, we have to cling to this reality - we really aren't celebrating a holiday, we are celebrating a PERSON. Our Savior, Immanuel, which means "God with us."
He is DAILY our Immanuel. He is DAILY our Savior. He is daily our Ever-present Help, our Sheild, Defender, Fortress, Rock, Redeemer, Good Shepherd...His Names are as infinite as His love, grace and mercy.
If you are celebrating this holiday season with tears, let them be tears of faith and surrender to the One who is longing to work out everything in your life for good. Romans 8:28 is not a pat answer, it is a solid promise.
This Christmas, I will shed a few tears for our adventurous son, Daniel, on a mission visit in Bolivia, who, manlike, won't be shedding any tears for me, and because of lack of available technology, probably won't be in touch.
I've already shed a few tears for child #7 lost to miscarriage four years, who would have been tearing into packages, eating too many cookies, and sitting on everyone's lap.
And, this year I will shed a few tears for the married daughter, Jana, and her two little ones who are in CA celebrating their first Christmas without us.
I wonder, as she begins her own family's Christmas traditions, if Christmas tears will be a part of her holidays.