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Holding It All Together-Down In The Dumplings

By Amy McCollom
I get it. I really do. Some people get down and depressed around the holidays for a number of reasons. I am not trying to minimize those feelings or not acknowledge those emotions by saying what I am about to say. Because life is hard, and we all have good reason to feel sad, down, and depressed at times. 

Yesterday a young lady named Laura told me she wasn’t going to have a happy Thanksgiving. It was going to be hectic because she was going to her in-laws, who were always high-strung and tended to be perfectionists. She was told what dishes to bring to the dinner, ones that she had never made before, and no one had asked for her input. There were a lot of traditions that her in-laws followed that she did not enjoy, and I really began to feel sorry for her.

She then told me that her family had stopped celebrating Thanksgiving after her mother had died on that day years ago, but her husband’s family was insensitive to her feelings about it. I’m going to be praying for Laura and her family as I plan my Thanksgiving meal this week. 

Maybe you, too, had a tragedy happen on or near a holiday that makes it hard for you to celebrate it now. Perhaps this will be the first holiday season spent without someone whom you have loved dearly. Or maybe you are going through one of life’s many struggles with health or finances or a myriad of other things that can befall us. We are all human. 

But the holiday season is not the time to hole-up with your wounds and sorrows by yourself. If anything, Thanksgiving and Christmas time is the best time of all to open up and release the grief and sadness, and grasp thankfulness and forgiveness. Forgiving and being thankful heals the soul. 

There is something about counting your blessings that make you forget, even for a moment, about the things you no longer have. We are all so blessed, even if we think we aren’t, just start looking around. God has been so good to us, and He will always send His comforter for the days when we need Him. Life will not always go as we plan, but we will always have enough to get through it.

If you are grieving, there are several really good YouTube videos that you can watch called Surviving The Holidays, Coping With Christmas, and Grief During The Holidays. Our church recently held a Griefshare – Surviving the Holidays class to help those suffering with grief and sadness during the holidays too, so ask your church if they would be willing to hold a Griefshare class in your area. 

One hard thing that my family had to go through personally is when 9/11 happened. I had just given birth to my daughter Portia, eight weeks prematurely, so she was in the neonatal NICU when the planes hit the towers in NYC. It was also the morning of my son Marcus’s fifth birthday. 

I was panicked, to say the least, as I was getting ready to go up and see my newborn when it happened. Although I wasn’t able to drive because I had a c-section (with complications), my mom drove me but couldn’t stop for gas because the line to the gas station was all the way around the block. Gas had gone up to $5 a gallon immediately as everyone panicked. I just wanted to get up to Champaign as quickly as possible to see that my baby was o.k.

Somewhere in the mix of things, the mayhem and shock, we had forgotten to shield little Marcus from all the input of the day’s events. Soon he was waking up screaming with nightmares, wetting his pants, acting out, having tummy trouble, and crying a lot. Months later, after we got to bring Portia home and the television had gone back to regular broadcasting, and Marcus was still not back to normal, I knew there was a serious problem. When I watched him playing with Legos, building a tower, then crashing it to the ground, and falling on top of it weeping, I knew then that the impact that 9/11 had on my child was more than just a mother could handle.

He started psychotherapy and after a diagnosis of PTSD at the age of 5, he continued on medication and therapy for several years until he was able to go back to just being a happy normal kid again. 

That date, though, 9/11…we avoid mentioning it. We still celebrate his birthday because that is a good thing. We celebrate Marcus and remember all of the fun times and make new memories each year. We avoid watching the television and although I feel an incredible sadness and loss for the people who died during that tragedy, I know that thinking about it for very long will only bring more sorrow and pain to me and my family, so I choose to move on quickly from those thoughts. That is how I deal with that.

When my dad passed away, and my mom sold their house and moved into assisted living, our family roots kind of vanished. But then I realized that everything changes, and if flood, fire, wind, or something else would have taken the house, it would be the same. Home is family, and wherever we are, that can be home. I’m happy to have my memories of Dad, the funny stories to tell, and the calm assurance that I know he knew Jesus when he left this old world. That is what warms my heart and makes me want to keep baking a turkey, putting up a Christmas tree, and staying up until midnight on New Years Eve, if I can. It’s what he would have wanted.

Holidays are for healing, happiness, and getting closer to Jesus. Don’t let anything or anyone rob you of that.

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