Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas presence

Are you ready for Christmas? I am. I'm as ready as I can be given the fact that this isn't the easiest celebration to pull off every year. A snowstorm could sweep in and ruin everything. A common cold can lay a person low.
But that's not what worries me.

The problem is that I have friends who are sick...so sick, in fact, that this could be the last Christmas they see. I have friends who are grieving. I know people who are lonely. Angry. Depressed.

And, most likely you do, too.

The holidays have a way of putting life's inevitable struggles into perspective. The bright lights and merry carols that the rest of us enjoy can dampen the spirits, deepen the grief, and aggravate the loneliness that so many feel at this time of the year.


I wish everyone could be happy at Christmastime. That everyone had hope. That everyone was at peace. It's hard to know what to do for those who aren't. What good are presents when pain is the problem?

When this happens, I am left to reflect on what I think would be helpful to me if the tables were turned:

If I were sick, if I were the one receiving chemo, or struggling against pain, I would want a friend at my bedside.

Don't bother bringing me fuzzy pink slippers or flowers or food...unless, of course, it makes you happy...in which case, bring it on! Even though it's your presence I need.

If I were grieving the loss of a loved one--my spouse, or one of my children, or my best friend--I would want you to sit at the kitchen table with me and share stories--the sweet, funny, important moments that we enjoyed with them.

I'll make the tea. You bring the cookies.
If my house turned to splinters in a storm, or I lost my job, or my marriage went south I would need you to hold me up, to cheer me on, to shelter me if it came to that. Don't say, "Call me if you need anything." I would need everything and I wouldn't have the strength to pick up the phone. Just come. Sit. Stay.
One of the best presents we can give is exactly that--our presence. Our halting, not-sure-what-to-do-or-say presence. Our I'll-be-here-for-you-no-matter-what friendship. Our I-wish-I-could-do-more-for-you selves.

This post is dedicated to family and friends who are grieving the loss of a beloved friend and gentle patriarch this week. RIP, Paul.
"The just man, though he die early,
shall be at rest.
For the age that is honorable
comes not with the passing of time,
nor can it be measured in years."
~Wisdom 4:7-8~

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