I have been waiting for this day to hit because it does every single Christmas since 2015. That’s the year that my dad passed away. I remember that first year without him felt insurmountable. The pain was huge and I convinced myself that time would heal it and the next year we would all feel “normal” again. That first Christmas, the loss of him hung over my mom, my sister and myself like a black cloud, stealing part of our joy. How is Christmas ever the same when the first man you ever loved is no longer there to spend it with? The man who loved Christmas more than me (which is A LOT) wouldn’t be there with his smirk when Santa walked in on Christmas Eve and he wouldn’t be there to spend the day begging to open “just one gift”. My heart hurt - all of our hearts hurt – how couldn’t they?
That all brings me to this morning. The kids and I listened to Christmas music while getting ready and then turned some on in the car. I cheerfully waved them goodbye as I dropped them off and reminded them to stay focused even though we all have Christmas on our brains. As I drove away and the music was playing, the lump in my throat started to form and the hot tears filled my eyes. The sadness of another year of Christmas memories without him flooded my heart. Four years later and the pain of missing him is still as raw as it was four years ago. I have finally accepted that those feelings will never change for me. I will always miss him fiercely around the holidays. I will miss the joy in his face while he watched his grandkids open gifts, I will miss the memories of he and I getting up early to enjoy Christmas blend coffee together and visit while everyone else was sleeping and I will forever miss our goodbye hugs and “I love you’s” when Christmas was over.
My dad was a wonderful man – he was honest, loving, humble and caring and he was my “person”. Somehow, my parents always made Christmas feel magical for us. I would guess that it was much like Christmas in most of your homes. Over the past four years, I have worked hard to not let the sadness shine through, especially to my kids – instead I want Christmas to feel as magical to them as it did to me as a kid – and I know that’s how my dad would want it. Instead of crying, we will laugh and share memories - like the time he thought the dog treats were beef jerky and ate almost the whole pack or the year my Grandad was swinging his new golf club in the kitchen and took a chunk out of my Gram’s new stove. That’s how we keep the ones we love and miss with us at Christmas – we keep their memories alive. And I pray that many years from now when my kids navigate Christmas without me, they will look back and think about how magical Nels and I made Christmas for them. I hope they will smile and tell our grandkids about the funny and ridiculous things that happened, but also how they felt loved beyond measure by us. I hope they miss us with a fierceness but know how to move forward in joy and making memories with their families!
For all of you that are facing an empty chair this year, please know that our family is praying for your family! I know that some of you are facing a loss that seems even larger than mine – I was blessed to have 36 years with my dad but some of you may be dealing with a loss that cut your time even shorter or leaves you missing a child, a brother, a sister, or a spouse – pain that we all hope to never feel. We are praying for you! Whether it’s your first year or you have been on this journey for quite some time, I hope that you will find comfort in those around you and joy in the magic of the season! In the end, can you imagine a better way to spend Christmas than with Jesus – I would say they are the lucky ones for sure! If we didn’t love them so much, we wouldn’t miss them so fiercely and I find great comfort in that!
From the Lindberg family to your family, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Now…go make some memories with the ones you love!