Christmas time ~ a time for family, friends, food and fellowship. Yet is that what you think of when the holiday season hits? Or do you get overwhelmed by the planning of food, the purchasing of gifts for everyone, who to see and when? Our holiday season can be so over run by preparations and the stresses of what we make the holidays to be, we forget to stop and understand the meaning.
I was in this same boat. Every holiday season was plagued by what family to see and when, what food I was making and the presents that I needed to get. I was running around trying to get everything done, in the midst of taking care of the kids and getting all their holiday school projects finished, making it to concerts, school plays, and parties. This is all the holidays became to me. Before I knew it, Christmas had passed and I didn’t enjoy any of it.
Then, two years ago everything changed. My father-in-law, Rick Wells, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) in June of 2012. The disease took a rapid and relentless approach, so that by October we knew this was most likely going to be the last holiday season we would spend with him. This was supposed to be the year to spend Christmas with my side of the family. Plans were to fly to my sister’s house and spend a week with her and her family and my parents. They were very understanding in knowing that we needed this holiday with Rick. We were granted a rare knowledge of knowing this was our last holiday season with him and we took every advantage of it. No overwhelming planning began or stresses took place. We just focused on time together and let everything else fall where it may. Even if that meant Christmas cards didn’t get out, pies were bought instead of baked, or presents were gift cards.
I specifically remember Black Friday ~ this night was always a night that Rick and I would get on our phones and spend hours talking to each other about where we were and what we got ~ we were very strategic. Always spending Thanksgiving with our Black Friday ads out and deciding who would go where and get what. This year was different in that we did a lot of our shopping online together and then I went out and he still called me. Yet the beauty of this was it wasn’t about the gifts this time or what we were “fighting” the crowds for, but the fact that we were doing this together for the last time. This was a shared time. As Christmas drew near, the same held true. None of the planning was about the actual planning, but just that we were planning it all together. We were creating this special memory.
Christmas came and went and it was the best holiday we had had as a family. Even going on a trip to the beach the week following. All the expectations of the season fell away and all the stresses became blessings. We cherished the moments, the hassles and the time spent. That following March, Rick went to be with the Lord.
Photo copyright Kristen Wells 2012
About the author
Kristen Wells has a bachelors of science degree in biblical counseling and is the author of The Warring Soul. She resides in California with her wonderful husband, Greg, her son, Justin, and her daughter, Katie.
Besides writing, Kristen enjoys reading, knitting, playing board games, substitute teaching at her kid’s school and mentoring youth. When she is not attending to the needs of her family, you can find Kristen curled up with a good book and a cup of coffee or fellowshipping with friends. Above all, she lives to exemplify Christ in her everyday life and help others to find their way out of darkness.