Because Dad and I loved Christmas so much this was our special time. I have memories of us all gathering at my granny's house. It was loud, lots of laughter and lots of relatives and friends stopping by to say hello to the extended family. I was very close to my paternal grandmother who lived in Wilmington. She spent every Christmas eve with us and went to church with us. She died while I was in college and the following Christmases were tough! I cried at church because our pew was missing someone. I always pray for those hurting during the holidays.
The year that dad died, Mike lost his mother and nothing was normal any more. I was sick and wondering if I would see another holiday. Death is a part of life but it is still difficult, especially, when we are creatures of habit and traditions. Missing those who have died is not a lack of faith. I know where my dad is but I am human. I always say because our relationship was so good it hurts so bad. Time has made things easier and I know he would want me to enjoy the holidays like he did.
Many people are hurting right now and need our prayers. As Christians we are to encourage each other. 1 Thessalonians 5: 11, "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." There are many who are experiencing their first holiday season without their loved one. Pray for them, invite them for a meal, send them a card, call them, visit them, etc to let them know you care. Not only are we to encourage others but we are to carry their burdens. Galatians 6: 2, "Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." There are people who are hurting during the holidays who do not have family to lean on. 1 Thessalonians 5: 14, "...encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone."
If you are the person hurting or discouraged, reach out to someone. Reaching out and serving other people is the greatest act of kindness and love. Studies show that serving is so good for our mind and body that it can reduce stress and depression. We are distracted from our own worries and blessed when we are a blessing to others. Let's ask God who needs to hear from us during the holidays. Who can we help carry their load?