Joy, joy, joy! (in my most Scrooge-y BAH-HUMBUG! voice)
‘Tis the season. (so soon?)
Merry Christmas. (sigh)
Season’s Greetings. (not)
Have a joyous holiday! (groan)
These are familiar sentiments during the Christmas season, but this year my heart is not singing the joyful tunes of Christmas.
Joy is seemingly impossible this year since my sweet Grandmother passed away merely two months ago! Memories flood this heart of mine; she was my inspiration, my wise counsellor and a source of my joy! And, most importantly, Gram was filled with a joy only Jesus could give.
Throughout my childhood, I have many memories of her; but the ones this season brings to mind seem to illuminate my joy-less world. Christmas Eve was always spent with my Gram doing so many special things– from using colored pencils to decorate wood ornaments, to baking cookies, to singing Christmas carols — this was a special time of year! And her presence made it all the more.
Every Christmas Eve for the past few years, she would give each great grandchild a well thought out gift, a gift from her heart. A Chik-fil-a gift card wrapped between a hamburger bun, money wrapped tightly inside a straw or taped to a Kit Kat wrapper- whatever the gift, each child was star gazed, filled with anticipation and wonder as they unwrapped their gift. Her love shown in this gift was timeless; and, oh the joy felt as they accepted it.
Which is why, I know Gram would want to keep these traditions alive. Even if it’s difficult. Even through the tears. Even though she’s no longer with us, she would want me to feel the JOY of Christmas despite her absence.
(My Gram, pictured, far left)
I don’t wish a Christmas overwhelmed with grief on anyone. But how do I have joy at Christmas when missing my Gram depletes this joy?
As Gram would say, happiness is found within each memory, each tradition; but genuine, hope- filled joy is found in Jesus. It is unpacked in the story of Christmas. We can have true joy when:
- We rejoice like Zechariah because of new beginnings. (Luke 1:14)
- We seek Him like the wise men. (Matthew 2:2)
- We see the wonder of the newborn babe like the shepherds. (Luke 2:20)
- We find joy in the unexpected like Mary. (Luke 1:46)
- We hear the gladness like the angels sang. (Luke 2:13-14)
- We love like God did as He gave us the gift of His Son, Jesus. (John 3:16)
And special moments create special memories. Gram’s presence is stamped on every memory, on every family gathering, on every tradition. She’s felt all around us and she would remind us — God’s presence in our hearts is where joy is birthed.
Joy is not wrapped inside the boxes we call presents. Joy is a gift God gave when His Son came into this world as a newborn babe. It’s God’s presence wrapped in our hearts! That’s what makes joy possible midst grief!
So this Christmas, I want Gram’s memories, family traditions to remain present. And the only way to truly do this is to choose Jesus, our joy in this Season.
So for you, my friend, at Christmas and all year long, I pray “the God, the source of hope will fill you, completely to the full, with joy and peace while you trust in Him.” (Romans 15:13)
May you have joy-to-the-FULL this Christmas season!
Brenda Earley is a wife to one, a busy mom to three, and volunteers with Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies as Study Leader and Writer. She is faithful to her church and uses her musical talents on the worship team as a Worship Leader and pianist. When she is not writing, singing, or playing piano, she is busy with attending basketball games and other school functions. You may reach her on Facebook: Brenda Earley. 💕