Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

Is anyone else struggling with the reality of another Christmas that doesn't feel so jolly and ho-ho-ho like you might prefer? Believe me, I tried hard to find something uplifting to write about this week.  The songs keep telling me this is the "Most Wonderful Time of the Year!"  It's tempting to be shallow and cheerful, offering pithy advice for celebrating the season far from family and friends.  I just can't.
Lacking any eloquence at all, I will just acknowledge that Christmas is hard.  Whether you are brand new to the field or like me, having spent more than half of your Christmases outside the U.S., it's not easy.  We can beat ourselves up for not being spiritual enough, for not focusing on the real reason for the season, but maybe it's okay to simply acknowledge that for us, this is a time when we feel the pain of the sacrifice we have made.
If you haven't discovered "A Life Overseas Mission Discussion" blog, I highly recommend it.  A recent post talks about this very idea of sacrifice.  It's called "Why I Will Not Say I Never Made a Sacrifice" and the author ends on a positive note that our sacrifices are never made in vain.  I liked the way she said it.  It validated the ache in my heart, but helped me to focus on the reward that lies ahead.
It's not like I don't have anything to be grateful for. Last week I had the blessing of visiting my son and his family, including my little granddaughter.  My husband booked our flights using frequent flyer miles, and we even got to be there for Aria's first birthday party.  Every bit of the weekend was fun.  Well, truthfully it was a bit of a struggle to reconcile the reality of being the second favorite grandma in the room, but even that went okay.
After that, dh flew to Ohio to visit his mom, while I flew to Texas to visit my mom.  I had a wonderful time playing Christmas duets on the piano with Mom, and later both my sisters came, and we all celebrated just being together.  No conflicts, no complaints.  Oh, and between trips, dh and I went to dinner with a childhood friend of mine and her husband.  That, too, was pure pleasure.  It's like I've already had my Christmas!
Leaving my son and daughter-in-law with their precious little toddler was sheer anguish.  At least I had a trip to Dallas to look forward to.  Then I had to say goodbye again to my mom and sisters.  That, too, was tough.  Life is uncertain, and I have no guarantee of seeing any of them again this side of heaven.  Nevertheless, it's always good to be home.
Now I am enjoying the quiet reality of home life with our annual viewing of different Christmas movies, baking lots of treats, and planning a party (maybe).  Like my "Mixed Bag" post a few weeks ago, I am accepting the good with the bad, and trying to focus on the good.   Still, you won't ever hear me say to you that it's easy to find joy this time of year.

IRL*  Faithful friends who are dear to us may not be near to us like the song says, but I AM thankful to have so many dear people to call my friends.



  1. Hi Jamie Jo, I'm glad you're back. Thanks for your honesty. I do think sometimes we have a magazine image of what Christmas should be, and real life Christmas isn't like that...I had a Christmas outreach women's party so wonderful, but so tiring, that I'm not so motivated to plan with my team our Church outreach party. I figure I'll let others lead and help this time!!!! But I'm enjoying time with my kids.

    On another note, I find that the "older" ;-) I get, the harder it feels to be far from family, and to come back to the field after visits, even though I like it here. Can't imagine leaving a grandbaby... Blessings to you.

    1. Hi, Olive. "Magazine image" - good word picture for our expectations. For whatever it's worth, it's perfectly okay to let others run the show some years. I've done the same thing.

      In some ways I think it was easier when all seven kids were living at home. It was more like the magazine image, at least in my memory.

  2. I can't imagine leaving my kids... let alone a grand baby!!! Ugh. The thought just makes me sad to think about. It IS hard, Jamie Jo. Plain and Simple. It is also good to see the moments of joy---as you so beautifully articulated. But, we are a mixed bag, aren't we. And it can be hard and good and bad all at the same time. And, you can be okay and not okay all at the same time. Me. too.

    1. "Beautifully articulated" - bless you, Stephanie. I like the way you say it better, that we can be okay and not okay all at the same time. :)

  3. Thanks so much for your honesty and transparency. I always have a tough time during this time of year. I know some missionaries who talk about what a blessing it is to be away from all of the commercialism and to just celebrate the true spirit of the season. I wind up feeling like a dirt-bag when I listen to them talk about how wonderful it is to be on the field for Christmas. But the truth is that it's hard for me. And this has been a particularly difficult year on so many levels. So today I'm choosing to claim Phil 4 and to consciously find the things to focus on that are good, lovely, true, noble, and praiseworthy. I will make the choice to let me heart dwell on those things.

    1. From one dirt-bag to another, truth is still truth. I'm sorry to hear about your difficult circumstances this year, but glad that together we can focus on the good, lovely, true, noble, and praiseworthy. That was my alternate post that I wasn't quite ready to write without hypocrisy. May you be surprised by joy this Christmas!


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