I never thought it was fair to lose anyone – let alone a parent – at Christmastime. Ironically, my mom died on December 21, 1997 – a Sunday, just like it is this year. I was not mad that my mother left us. She had been ill for several months and it hurt more to see her suffer knowing she wouldn’t recover. Still though, I felt sure that my favorite time of year was ruined.
That afternoon I called some friends to inform them of my mom’s passing, one of them said, “I am very sorry for your loss. Listen, you may not want to hear this but I think your mom left us at one of the most beautiful times of the year. You may not think so right now, but I’m sure you’ll see what I mean.”
Two days after her death we gathered for her memorial service and burial. The nave and chancel were beautifully decorated for Christmas. The lights on the tree and the candles on the altar made the atmosphere bright and cheerful – just the way she would have liked it. Many, many people came to the service despite the busy time of year – including the aforementioned friend who reiterated what he had told me on the phone. There was much love and warmth before, during, and after the service that day.
As it turned out my friend was right. Friends gathered around my family and me and the Christmas (and other) celebrations went on as scheduled. In other words, there was plenty of distraction to keep my focus off the death of my mother for a while. But it wasn’t just the friends and pretty lights that kept me distracted, it was the celebration of the birth of our Savior – the best distraction there is!