Advent, My Way #15


Winter Traveler by Myles Birket Foster

Ah, Christmas, when all is calm, all is bright . . .

Not so fast, my friends.

Have I told you the story about my husband, on Christmas Eve, falling and breaking his leg in two places? And spending the night in the ER, as a prelude to surgery?

Or the one about getting our car stuck in a snowdrift and having to walk the last quarter mile to the farm, freezing in hip-deep snow, with a Siamese cat stuffed inside a coat?

Or even the one about my sister and me, alone at Christmas, because my mother was with my father, who was in his final days in a far-away cancer hospital?

Or the story about the following year, when the young widow was trying to create a new kind of Christmas for her teenage daughters, and booked a trip to Florida? Only to spend 13 hours in the Montreal airport and have the flight cancelled in a blizzard and to return home, to a cold, empty house, devoid of Christmas preparation or cheer?

No. No, I have not told those stories.

I generally choose not to tell such stories. They don’t fit my present theme of looking forward to a special season. Those stories expose the difficulties and disappointments and heartbreaks that can come at this time of year.

I mention these stories now only because I want you to know that I recognize, even as I write warm, fuzzy tributes to perfect holidays, that not everyone has the good fortune to experience such a perfect holiday this year.

For too many people, the holiday season has a dark underbelly.

I know because my Christmases haven’t all been perfect either. Tough times are not considerate that way.

Some of you may be struggling to find happy and merry and joy and peace, and a silent night.

If you are lucky enough to be looking forward to a calm and joyous holiday, spare some thought and time for those who are not so fortunate. In your contentment, be considerate, be caring.

And if you are facing tribulations this year, know that you are not forgotten. We are not unmindful or uncaring of your troubles. We would share your burden, if we knew how, if you would let us.

You may not find your happy and merry and joy and peace, your silent night. Not this year. But I hope and believe, with all my heart, that, in another year, or two, these will be yours again.

All calm, all bright . . .

58 thoughts on “Advent, My Way #15

  1. My childhood Christmases were not very happy ones and so this season is a melancholy one for me as I am sure it is with so many people. I love the music and the books centered around the season and fill my home with them. It creates other memories to replace childhood ones best forgotten.

  2. Well put, my friend! If one wanted too, it isnot toolste to make a difference to someone struggling to make a more cheery Christmas. There are organizations always looking for toys and food. I just read a story about a local woman who made payments on the property taxes of 5 families, fending off foreclosure proceedings. And a local Santa often pays off lay aways at a locally owned department store. All waysto help even if you dont know the person. If we are fortunate enough to have extra, it is pretty easy to share.

  3. Bless you, Kerry! Life does hand us hards times even at Christmas.Have seen a few of those myself.The first day of my life was spent in a hospital,I don’t think I minded that time at not being home. :))

    • You’re a Christmas baby!? That’s neat–did you feel cheated when you were little, because you had to share your birthday with Christmas, or did that make it more special?

      • Late Christmas Eve baby.. oh l hated having my birthday over Christmas time as a child..Everybody got gifts when I did,and I was hardly noticed. Lol! Now I like it.

  4. I suppose there are those lucky folks who approach each holiday season with no memories of a dark underbelly, but I guess they might be the minority. If you are lucky enough to live a rather long life, there are those memories that poke through this time of year that you try to tamp down with positives vibes and reaching out to others. That’s life. Here’s to everyone finding ‘calm and bright.’

  5. What a lovely post. And you’ve shown us that you have had had some truly difficult Christmasses, along with other members of your family. I hope that this year, both of you will enjoy a season where ‘all is calm, all is bright’.

    • So far, so good, Margaret! We are very fortunate overall–but we try not to forget that some of our friends are having struggles. I hope the good tempers the difficult for you and yours this year.

  6. Great post, Kerry, with a new way of looking at the holidays. I live a long way from family so I’ve spent a dozen pleasant Christmases by going to mass, making a simple meal that reflects my nationality, and enjoying a good Christmas movie. I never feel lonely!

    • I was just reading an article about the differences between solitude and loneliness–you are clearly one who loves solitude–and I can really relate! Thanks for commenting, Ginene!

  7. Oh I can relate to the less than happy Christmas, having had a share of mishaps and illnesses to cope with. Hospital visiting at Christmas is not fun. here’s hoping that they are few and far between for us all.

  8. Yes Kerry, enjoying the peaceful, calm and tidy times and focusing on the loveliness in life, usually finds its reason in cold darker experiences. It should make us more emphatic to do those who are (still) in dark troublesome times. And I do feel with a passion the happiness in my life, especially at Christmas. I feel a melancholy contrast sometimes when I think back but I would be ashamed of myself if I would be bitter about it. I suspect we are kindred spirits in that way too ;o) I choked up when I read about you and family as teenagers loosing your dad and your mom struggling. I smiled when I thought of you and your husband ploughing through the blizzard and keeping your Siamese cat safe and warm. You are indeed very precious Kerry and keep on enjoying the loveliness, we all are fully aware of your compassion toward those who are less fortunate! xo Johanna

    • You’re very kind, Johanna–and I can’t imagine that any trouble would keep you down for long. I think you’re right that the troubles we sometimes have make the good times even better, when they return.

  9. Beautifully said. Life has it’s own agenda and it’s not always sweet and glittery. But the hard times make us more sensitive to others and appreciate the good even more. Have a wonderfilled day.

  10. We all have had those troubled Christmases and I am no exception. Life is not always kind and fair. This is a lesson best learned early so we may be prepared as the years unfold. I believe that is why times like Christmas are so important to us, as they bring some joy and warmth to you and me in this indifferent world. I have seen Christmas celebrated in grand style with huge decorated trees with piles of presents and all types of food. I have also seen it celebrated with a simple manger scene a thoughtful present, and warm memories. Both ways were enjoyed and brought happiness. In this blog we have talked of the many ways we celebrate or don’t at Christmas.

    I like movies and have a few movies on DVD I would recommend to everyone. They each have a strong Christmas message but in a very different way. The first one being Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas) takes place on Christmas eve 1914 on a World War one battlefield. The 2nd movie is The Nativity Story. It is a nice retelling of the reason for this season. The third movie is one I watch every year. It is the Christmas Carol, but has to be the one with George C Scott playing Scrooge. It is the best acted and most true to the book version that you will ever find.

    I do hope some of you try one or all of these movies, but most important have a very Merry Christmas and if you do not celebrate Christmas may this many holiday season bring some joy and peace to all of us.

    • What great points you make, Charles! Thank you of taking the time to comment like this and thanks for the movie ideas and good wishes! I hope that this year is one of the very best Christmases you can even imagine!

  11. So true, and so well put, Kerry. Sometimes people think those who focus on the good are 1) stupid or 2) pollyannas. It’s not true. They’re moving forward. Of course, it’s never good to forget there’s a dark side. That awareness makes the good times brighter.

  12. I feel very blessed at Christmas but know how life events can change your view of a holiday. My mom passed away on Mother’s Day weekend, and it really put a damper on things for several years. It is important to be aware of those around you and sensitive to how you can be a support during the holidays.Thanks for the timely reminder Kerry!

    • I can see how your loss would change your feelings about Mother’s Day! I need to consistently remind myself to be empathetic to what others are dealing with–I tend to just obliviously assume everyone else is as happy as I am!

      • But the good news is that after awhile you can appreciate the holiday for the good things that have happened. It took me several years, but I can now enjoy the day more. I do confess I usually adopt an elderly neighbor and take her out for tea or something as a substitute!

  13. I continue to delight and admire each and every posting. Your heartfelt writings today about honoring those difficult times and supporting one another are so very beautiful, as you are beautiful. I look forward to reading your advent writings each day – what a wonderful gift indeed! Thank you Kerry.

  14. You can’t have Yang without Yin and this post puts Christmas in its proper place. A calm and bright Christmas isn’t an entitlement – it is often a hard fought slog. The pressure to make it all calm and bright feels impossible to achieve at times and if the past is heavy with dark memories, if you’re lucky enough to achieve a bit of twinkle it is all the brighter because of the past.

    • Beautifully put! I wonder why we all pretend everything is so calm and bright, when we could support each other better, perhaps, if we all fessed up to our own troubles . . . Thanks for coming by, Susanne!

  15. I think everyone has those less-than-perfect holidays, some more than others. Our thoughts and prayers to all who are experiencing that right now. Thank you, Kerry, for sharing.

  16. So kindly put Kerry. I have a friend whose Grandmother died on Christmas Day and then many years after, her mother also passed away on Christmas Day. She is a practical, down-to-earth woman and has coped with those memories through the years and has worked hard to make the day enjoyable for the rest of her family. This year she has her first grand-child to celebrate with and I am so pleased for her.

    • Wow–losing a grandmother and mother both–what a terrible thing to deal with! But, as you say, we cope and then the circle of life reminds us that there is much to be thankful for.

  17. Another heartfelt, inspiring message! Like many, we look for ways to give back throughout the year. But especially at Christmas – because we all have had our challenges – we give through toy drives, food drives, Secret Santa and random acts of kindness.
    I like the message of “calm and bright”.

  18. I’m behind on my reading, but looking forward to catching up with your Advent posts, Kerry. You are a wonderful writer and a caring soul.

    I’m often melancholy during the holidays. It ebbs and flows. Losing my dad at nine, the years of poverty, and the part of me that carries the weight of the world all contribute to my malaise. We had several happy Christmases in Canada, and I’ve had many more since becoming a mom. I’ve always been able to make it special for them and for that I’m grateful.

    I remember sitting with my mom during her last days and hoping she wouldn’t die on Christmas day. She passed December 28th of that year. The early Christmases after dad died were hard too.

    Thanks for sharing your own stories and for acknowledging both sides of the Christmas story. Our media paints a cheerful picture in movies, TV shows and ads. I agree that it’s far nicer to own the fact that the joy of Christmas ebbs and flows, and that it’s good to be here for each other. xo

    • I wonder if any human is really able to feel pure, unadulterated joy at this time of year or if, as you says, the joy ebbs and flows. We build the holiday season up so much in our minds, it’s bound to be a letdown in some ways . . .

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