On Earthly Christmases
Growing up, my dad would always tell us that he believed our family was something special.
We got so used to hearing this speech of his. He would go on and on about how it was such a miracle that he had even met my mom, let alone married her. How becoming a dad so radically changed his life, and how Anna, Cecilia, and Sophia were total gifts from God after long years of wanting more babies. He would constantly be musing about how we were going to do something great. Something big and intense and wonderful was on the horizon for us.
We didn’t feel all that wonderful, at times. My family is not calm. We aren’t orderly, neat, or tidy. We aren’t put together in any sense of the word. We’re an avalanche of chaos and color and mess. We’ve lived comfortably and well in big houses, we’ve lived humbly in campgrounds and in grandparents’ houses, we’ve taken vacations to Disney and we’ve received our next meal from a food pantry. We’ve somehow brought six humans into the world, but we have lost five. Our family has been on a tumultuous ride in this life.
It has been hard to believe that we really were made for something truly special like my dad so often spoke of. We know hard work and grit and suffering, but we didn’t have any plans of glory or spectacle for ourselves.
Today marks the second Christmas without my dad, and I’m beginning to realize that what he spoke of for so many years just maybe has come to fruition.
I’ll never forget holding onto my brother and mom and sisters so tightly over that casket, feeling little Leo kick in my belly, holding onto one another, whispering goodbye. I’ll never forget how radically alive I felt next to my family as we saw that box lower into the earth, holding the remains of our favorite person. I remember squeezing hands so tightly, pressing as close as we could, vowing over and over again to never live life the same way ever again.
I never knew the true power of love until I saw death and knew that we were stronger.
So, for all those Christmas mornings with my dad musing how special we all were, I have such conviction that his belief in the power of love was what he really meant all along. My family’s glory and uniqueness is really all that special, because we now laugh joyfully in the face of agonizing pain, we now continue to love without measure in the midst of bitter suffering. That is special. That is great. To have incarnational hope like this is radical.
And I know that, for all the earthly Christmas mornings left to us on this earth, we will continue to live in the light of eternity because we know that Love is waiting, waiting, waiting for us.