Christmas over the years has been a plethora of different things. It has been the happiest of day's but the saddest of day's, the most carefree of day's and then the most stressful of day's, the most joyful and yet the most heart wrenching.
When I was growing up I remember Christmas being a magical time of year that just seemed to take forever to come around. My brothers and I would wake up at stupid o'clock and creep down the passageway .. making sure we missed the creaking floorboards .. and into the lounge room that had been transformed overnight into an Aladdin's cave of gift's and surprises for everyone. There was a tangible excitement in the air for me that just made the day so incredible.
Then I can remember Christmas day's when I thought my heart would stop beating from so much pain. The day seemed to come around way too fast then when it arrived it felt like it was never going to end. Every minute felt like it was tearing my heart out of my chest with loneliness, pain and heartbreak. I could barely breathe and tears would wash over my face like a never-ending river.
When I was a child I could never have imagined that Christmas day would not be anything but a magical day filled with joy, laughter and so much love.
And then life happened. Personalities got too big and fractures in families started to create chasms between relationships. We didn't visit this Grandparent because of reasons that I was never told as a child, we avoided this aunty and that uncle and it was frowned upon to mention their name. I couldn't understand this as a child and it only caused confusion in my little mind.
Years later when I was then the adult and my four kids were still in their childhood years, I was then the one who had caused personalities to get too big and fractures to come into relationships that I never thought was possible.
I can remember going to Church one Christmas day, putting on a big smile and my best personality as a front when my reality was my heart was breaking from loneliness and pain. I would not be seeing my kids and grandkids that day and I tried so hard to push it down under the blanket of "I have nightshift tonight so I'll just go home and sleep and then get up and go to work", all the while hearing the excitement in the kids voices at church of whose house they were going to first and how much pudding they were going to fill their bellies with ... thinking my heart was going to fall into a million pieces.
Being a shift worker, and being expected to work most Christmas', it has been hard to actually spend Christmas day with my kids so we have spent a day together right before Christmas when we opened present's, eat way too much food and spent the afternoon solving all the world's problems and letting the kids eat enough chocolate to start a diabetic coma.
I have loved those day's and I'm sure I get way more excited than the kids in anticipation of how much fun we are all going to have together.
But then the 25th December comes around and it seems to hit me like a left hook from my blind side. I know the day is coming. I tell myself that it's just another day on the calendar. I know the sun will rise and the sun will set. I know all that. But it still gets me every single year.
This year I've tried really hard to take a step back and look at life from a different perspective. My Pastor made a comment during the Christmas period that we are in the palm of God's hand. I've heard that comment a hundred times before but this time when I was sitting in church hearing those words I actually visualised it. I could see God's massive hand being held out and me laying literally in the palm of His hand. His fingers wrapped around me ... I was so secure, so safe, so protected. I felt like I could breathe.
Yes, I still had the heartache. Yes, I still felt like I was going to burst into tears and never stop. Yes, I still felt like my heart was going to break into a million pieces ... but this year I could see myself actually being held in God's hand. It's a process and every day is still stretching and growing me. Just re-reading this brings my tears to the surface, but I look at the picture of God's hand holding me and I just know that everything is going to be ok ... I can breathe.