Remembering the Meaning of Christmas

​It's that time of year again! The most magical time. Where family gathers together and the atmosphere is filled with friends, family, love, laughs, hugs and let's not forget... food!

​I used to dream of becoming a mom and would look forward to the Christmas season with my family. From picking out a Christmas tree, to decorating, to having cute family Christmas cards and going to the Christmas church service. Then Christmas morning would come and there would be excitement in our hearts. Our kids' faces would light up when they saw all the gifts wrapped under the tree. I envisioned getting woken up super early and crawling out of bed with smiling faces all around me. I could see my husband and I sitting next to each other, in our pajamas, with a hot cup of coffee and just watching in awe as our babies opened their gifts. The room would be filled with smiles, hugs, kisses and giggles. Oh, did it made me so excited for the future!

​And then I woke up.

The hopes and dreams of my youth were crushed. The husband I once had was no longer my husband. I was a single mom. Everything I ever wanted was so quickly taken from me. Divorce came in and hit me like a ton of bricks. My heart was completely shattered. I would somehow have to find a way to pick up the pieces and continue on with life. This post is about struggling through the holidays but I’ll be sharing what my experience with divorce itself was like on a later post. Here I talk about how to find joy through the Holidays when you feel broken and hopeless.

So let me take you back to a time when my Christmas seasons weren‘t all that merry.

It's December, 2016.. The first year after our split. I'm sitting on my couch, with a beer in my hand, in my tiny, one bedroom apartment. I'm staring at my empty bank account and wondering how in the world I was going to afford Christmas this year. I broke into tears. How had life ended up this way?! What had I done to deserve this? I reached out to someone and asked for help to buy my daughter Christmas presents. I was laughed at and called selfish and was told that I didn't deserve all the help I’d already gotten. And I believed them. I felt awful. I was a failure. I mean, what kind of mom couldn't afford Christmas gifts for their kid? I didn't dare to ask anyone else for help because I felt so foolish. Maybe I WAS selfish. Maybe everthing WAS my fault and I DIDN'T deserve to be happy. Maybe I brought this upon my myself. It was the loneliest I had ever felt. As Christmas got closer I had to find a way to make it special for my baby girl, who had just turned 1. I found some boxes and I put toys she already owned in them and wrapped them. I knew she wouldn't know the difference. I just wanted it to feel "normal". I wanted there to be SOMETHING under the tree for her to open. I had spent most of my money on gifts for my family, because I couldn't let anyone know I was struggling. I didn't want to be a burden and I didn't want anyone to feel bad for me. I hid. I hid every single tear I ever cried. I buried them away and never wanted them to see the light of day again. That Christmas my only goal was just to make it through the day. I spent the day with my family and did my best to be present but I couldn't help but to feel defeated. I got home that night and I was drained, I drank some wine and cried myself to sleep. But I survived. Kiara had a good time so we'll call that a successful Christmas. (ooof)

The next few Christmases had different kinds of trials. I was more financially stable and was more accustomed to being a single mom. But as Kiara started to get older, my ex husband and I had to figure out a parenting schedule for the Holidays. We agreed that he would have her Christmas Eve night into Christmas morning and I would get her later in the morning and have her for the rest of the day. The first year I didn't get to wake up to my child on Christmas was heart wrenching. I woke up alone and all of my past hopes and dreams came flooding back and I was overcome with sadness. I couldn't remember what Christmas was about. I couldn't remember the joy and love the season brings and I certainly didn't remember Jesus. All I felt in that moment was heartache. And I mean literal heartache. Where your chest is so tight you can hardly breathe and you don't know if you'll survive. No mom should have to wake up on Christmas Day alone, without her child. At least that's how I felt in that moment. The time came to pick my daughter up from her dad, so I took a quick shower, washed my pain away and was out the door. I got to the house where she was at and saw the joy on her face. She was so happy! She got to spend time with her daddy and some of his family and they all spoiled her and made her Christmas morning so special. I wrapped her in a hug, wished everyone a Merry Christmas and we went to spend the rest of the day with my family. On the way to my parents house I felt jealous of my ex. As happy as I was that Kiara had a good morning, I wanted that moment to be with me. I know that sounds selfish, and it is; but it's the honest truth of what I felt. I'm grateful to have a good co-parent. I'm grateful that Kiara's dad is such an active part of her life, but it also means I have to share the biggest, most important person in my life with someone who is no longer in mine. I don't get her all to myself. I don't get to have every good moment.

Anyways, we spent the rest of that Christmas at my parents house and the feeling of jealousy only deepened when we got there. I saw my parents and how happy they were together and it just made me feel like I failed. I wanted my spouse there, with me. I wanted to feel complete. No matter how much time had passed, I missed the hopes I had for my own family. Kiara should've been a sister by now. It just broke my heart all over again. The day went well, though. We laughed, we played games and we enjoyed each others company. But I was happy to go home. I just wanted to be alone with my wine and a sad movie and wallow. So I did just that. Year after year.

And then everything changed! I met Jesus.

My daughter is 6 now.

It took me a few years, but I have found my love for Christmas again. My heart still hurts at times. I don't get to wake up to my sweet girl on Christmas morning. I still don't know what it's like to wake up next to your spouse and enjoy the moment together as a family. I don't get to hear the giggles first thing or see the excitment. My Holidays don't look like I once dreamed they would. But I have a beautiful little girl and a beautiful life with her. I have friends and family who love us both so dearly. I am sober. I have so much to be thankful for. I have yet to make those cute Christmas Cards I dreamed of, but one of these years I'll get to it. (Maybe. Life is busy and I definitely don’t have it all together lol) We decided to start some new traditions. One of them being that we will celebrate our Christmas on Christmas Eve. That way, Christmas day we can spend the whole day with family. Half with daddy's side and half with mommy's. This is a new normal. I'm grateful to have learned along the way and to be able to be enjoy the moments I used to dread. Most importantly, it made me realize what Christmas is really about. And that's Jesus. Without Him, we wouldn't have a reason to celebrate. So now, when I wake up to a quiet house and I'm all alone, I will choose to spend that time with the One who made it possible. I get some time with my Savior on His birthday and what is better than that?

So, during this season I want to encourage you all to look to Jesus first. He loves you oh so very much! The gifts don't matter. The most precious gift was already given through Jesus. The technicalities of the day don't matter. Make your own traditions. Find a way to be grateful for the small moments. Enjoy the time you get with loved ones. Please learn from me. I spent years dreading the Holidays. I was so wrapped up in self-pity that I didn't get to enjoy being with my family or even my daughter. I felt sorry for myself and I sat there for a long time. I also held on to a lot of pride for way too long. I didn't let people see my pain or my struggles. Some people say that's strength, but it's not. Ask for help. Don't buy gifts you can't afford. Intead, be present. That's a far better gift anyway. Don't waste a single moment. Look at all the good times and the blessings that have been given to you. You might just start to have hope again. And where there's hope,there's joy and life! Let's bring the true meaning of Christmas back!

​ I want to do a special shout out to all of the single parents out there and anyone else who may be feeling down this year. Whether you lost a loved one recently, you're going through a divorce, you're struggling financially, struggling with addictions, or you're just flat out not happy. You guys rock!! You are doing an amazing job and you deserve 5 stars!! It's okay if Holidays are hard. It's okay if you're struggling. You are not alone! Please don't be ashamed to ask for help. We are all human. Not one of us has it all together. I promise that it gets better. I promise that people care. If you or someone you know is having a hard time please reach out! I would love to chat and help in any way I can! I think the best gift we can give anyone is a listening ear and an understanding heart.

I love you guys! I sincerely hope you all have a very blessed Christmas Season!

Happy Birthday, Jesus!!

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