Today is December 24th, 2022. My son, Berkeley, was in a hit and run while walking in a crosswalk in downtown LA on December 1st.
I haven’t written since. I do my best to “write in the messy”. I encourage others to do the same. But this….this was a kind of messy so deep and crowded by trauma that it took all of my mental, emotional and physical energy to do the tasks necessary to take care of what was in my power to take care of for the past few weeks.
By the grace of God I was able to be with him and his fiancé, Kinze. I did a lot of the basics but also spent hours calling doctors, detectives, police, and insurance agents. The rest of the time was spent driving to appointments, picking up medical equipment and since it’s Christmas, occasionally driving around together looking at Christmas lights and decorating the tree.
I have so much to reflect on in hindsight, but today, since it is Christmas Eve, I am going to start with something that might also help you get through your holiday if it happens to pose any threat to your serenity or the ideal holiday celebration you had in your head and heart.
There is a raging opportunity for disappointment and even despair when it comes to Christmas.
Because of Berkeley’s recent surgery they will not be coming home for Christmas this year.
I don’t like that.
That was not my plan at all and I am disappointed and sad.
Maybe you feel that way this season: Disappointed. Sad.
You hoped your family would all be together but they couldn’t get a flight or afford one or all got the flu.
You prayed that certain family members would be speaking to each other again but resentments have divided your holiday celebration.
You don’t even feel like celebrating because your loved one who passed this year won’t be there with you.
You thought this year would be different. That he or she would finally get sober.
You wish you could finally bring that special someone as your holidate so your family would get off your back about your love-life.
God hasn’t shown up like you wanted Him to so you aren’t really interested in celebrating the birth of His son. Quite frankly, you are mad at Him.
Fill in the blank with any number of circumstances that can breed a disappointed, grinchy spirit.
Blake and I have had numerous conversations with Berkeley about this to help him reframe what we can’t control. We shared what we remember about our first few Christmases alone in Illinois.
Both sets of our parents lived in California when we were first married and lived 2,000 miles away. Since Blake and his dad were both working at churches, they had responsibilities on Christmas Eve. We would stay until the day after Christmas and then head out to California.
It was weird at first, but then, as we leaned into it, we found new ways to celebrate. We pulled out the Hide-a-bed mattress and watched Christmas movies all day. We found special Christmas light displays to visit and created our own holiday traditions. We still look back on that time with fondness.
Maybe you could think about it like the kid from Home Alone (which I just watched during our Christmas movie marathon while I was staying with Berkeley. I think we watched at least one a day for two weeks!).
Maybe that is a little extreme. But when we are disappointed, we have to keep perspective and be open to doing things differently. Maybe we can embrace a fresh new way of enjoying Christmas this year.
While I was in California, when the accident first happened, we tried to only do what really mattered. And what apparently really mattered to Berkeley on December 3rd because he has his priorities straight, was that Bath and Body Works was having their annual half-price candle sale. He instructed Kinze and I to leave him at the hospital and pick up a slew of Christmas candles.
I told Kinze to pick out a body spray scent for herself and that I would use it also while out there, since you still sweat in California in December. She picked one and we both used it regularly for the next two weeks. That scent floated off our bodies and swirled in their home like air freshener.
If you have ever read my blog, Smells Ring Bells, you will know that I and many others have a strong affinity to smells and how they draw us in to certain times in our life.
But listen carefully to what I am about to tell you. When I got home, I ran to my office and while I was there, I had a vague recollection about that scent. I went to my friend’s desk and asked her if I could see the body spray I had given her months earlier because I was not a fan of it, so much so that I gave it away.
It was the exact same scent from the exact same store.
My point, is that whether it is holidays, or smells, or any other trigger in our lives, we can always reframe and redeem it if we choose to. With God’s help it is possible.
For years, because of a car accident that left my brother’s son and my sister’s son paralyzed from the waist down, our family dreaded Good Friday. Somehow Good Friday, in the same respect to Jesus himself being crucified, did not feel very Good at all.
But one year, as I checked in on how my sister was doing as the day approached, she informed me that she was no longer going to grieve on that day. She was going to celebrate.
She chose to see it differently. She chose to embrace the blessings that are woven throughout the bad. There is still hope and the promise of healed hearts if we surrender to what is possible.
Perspective is everything.
Is it time for you to explore a new scent or be intentional about inhaling and relishing an old one in a new way?
For more encouragement to get you through the holidays, read: