How To Deal With Tragedy During Christmas
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How To Deal With Tragedy During Christmas

A Mary Christmas

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How To Deal With Tragedy During Christmas

I remember four Christmases ago, tragic stories were being shared on Christmas Eve at my church. While some people were reuniting with loved ones, others were forced to say goodbye. One woman lost her firstborn son on Christmas Eve morning and one grandma lost her daughter and her daughter’s family to a violent car crash while on their way to visit her for the holidays. I remember thinking, how can they face Christmas this way? How must “Merry Christmas” sound to them now? How can they ever think of Christmas fondly again? Although my Christmas that year was joyful, this year I find myself still thinking about those women. I’m enduring tragedy of my own this Christmas season, and all the hope and wonder it usually brings has left me. For the first time, I think I can answer the questions I asked four years ago.

How can I face Christmas this way?

True, my Christmas experience will be different this year, but that does not mean it won’t be good. This year I feel as if I am experiencing the weight of Christmas more fully than past Christmases. I think about Mary, the mother of Jesus and what it really must have been like for her to carry the Son of God and bring him into a hostile world that would eventually kill him. Whether you believe in the Christmas story or not, it doesn’t matter. The fact remains that it is inspiring that a young girl could have faith in spite of such dark circumstances and that is the true meaning of Christmas. It is hope coming — even as small as an innocent baby — to a dark world that so desperately needs it. That is how I face Christmas, the way Mary faced her responsibility — with faith and love.

How does “Merry Christmas” sound now?

Whenever I hear the phrase “Merry Christmas” I immediately picture “Mary Christmas.” I think of Mary and how her society wanted to stone her for getting pregnant without a husband. I think of how her fiancé Joseph believed her and supported her and chose to be cast out with her. I think of her courage to face her calling and her perseverance all the way to the foot of the cross where her son was murdered for speaking the truth. And I think about how she must have felt when she saw him rise again. That is what I think of when I hear “Merry Christmas.”

How can I ever think of Christmas fondly again?

There will be more Christmases, some joyful and some tragic. But I know one day I will be able to look back on this Christmas and remember how I pressed on. I will always remember what I learned and I will be able to share it with those who need to hear it. And that is the best Christmas present I could ever ask for.

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