It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

….says the song.
But for me, this time, this year, I quietly and respectfully wonder if it really isn’t. Granted, we’re being faced with three cold fronts, dropping inches upon inches of snow, and high temperatures not reaching a single digit above zero. But aside from the weather…it’s the season that has me befuddled. 
I can focus one million or more times on what would have, could have, should have been this Christmas. The pink “Baby’s First Christmas” stocking that would have been hung. The teething rings and soft blocks that would have been wrapped under the tree. The family pictures taken as Harlynn would have tried to eat the wrapping paper. Washing my hands between cooking the traditional prime rib dinner and changing a nasty diaper. Sending a Christmas letter announcing our baby’s birth rather than her death. But focusing on it or not, it won’t change our Christmas. It won’t change our holidays. It won’t bring her back.
Yesterday my husband brought in the numerous bins of Christmas decorations and wrapping materials that had been in storage. Normally we keep them in our house, but for the brief while our house was listed for sale, we kept a bunch of items in storage. I lifted the lids and took a quick inventory of our items. One more container, the last one, held all of the items I’ve used to decorate around the home for the last dozen or so years. Items for my table tops, shelves, and any out-of-child’s-reach available surface. Everything inside the container was broken. Shattered. Piece after piece I pulled out broken Santas, snowmen, framed seasonal picture – all of it was in pieces.  Reaching in to retrieve one of the shards, I stuck my thumb, and it began to bleed.
I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry – certainly none of it seemed humorous. Haley saw everything broken and started to (pretend) cry because I had told her we would decorate together. I didn’t know what to do. These are the only decorations I’ve used for years. Over a decade, some of them. A few of them, of course, had sentimental value.  I was mad. I was mad at my husband for not being careful with handling the container. I was mad at myself for not packing the items better – even though I had packed them the same way for years and never lost a single one. I was mad that I had cut my thumb. I was mad at Christmas. I was mad at everything. Everyone.
And I quietly cried.
Over a few ceramic pieces of glittery nonsense? No. I cried because it was so symbolic of my life at this point. I can’t keep anything whole. Not my bleeding hand, not my family, not my daughter Harlynn – the only thing I have to show are these gaping wounds that flare up with pain at the most unexpected and incoherent times. I have fragments of everything that was supposed to be. Jagged, broken pieces.
I decided an impromptu shopping trip was in order. I got Haley ready and as I put her in her car seat she whined, “You poked me and hurt my tummy.”  I snapped back, “Accidents happen. I wasn’t trying to hurt you.”  Then I stopped. I realized it wasn’t Brent’s fault those things broke. It wasn’t my fault. It was just another thing that happened. Because crappy things happen. I couldn’t be mad. I apologized to Haley and settled in as we drove away and braved the crowds to browse Hobby Lobby in an attempt to replace what had been lost. Nothing appealed to me. Nothing looked like what I wanted. We left after purchasing nothing.
Once back home, I felt the flutters. Little life moving around inside me. This baby, who I’m scared to get too close to, I also love with all my being. This tiny little baby brought my focus to where it ought to be. I smiled. Flutter after flutter I felt reassurance. I felt peace. I felt hopeful. I find it no coincidence that our peace lily, that has only ever bloomed in early spring, suddenly burst forth a blossom this week.
No, our Christmas isn’t anything like what we expected it to be: void of the coos and giggles of our baby Harlynn. We weren’t planning on hanging a stocking that will never be filled. We weren’t planning on any of this.  But regardless of the fragments of what we know could have been, I have every ounce of faith that those broken pieces – every tiny one of them – are being held in the hands of the only one who understands our simultaneous joy and suffering. Held in the hands of the very one who holds our Harlynn. Held in the hands of the one who formed this precious life growing within me now. Held in the hands of the one we praise at Christmas, and always.
I Peter 5:10-11 “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

~Our Family of Five, Represented in one picture~

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