Christmas Ache

Christmas Ache

There’s been a stirring in my soul: words begging to come out, a picture urging me to free it onto the canvas.

I told myself I’d make the time. I told myself I’d schedule a day to sit and allow a space for the words to come, for the story to be told.

Today is that day. I made the coffee, I sat at the table, I opened the computer. I did so while the cookies baked and the evergreen candle burned. I did so by the light of the soft golden Christmas tree glow and to the sound of the sleeping pug below it.

What I didn’t realize, what I didn’t see before this moment, is that the story asking to be told is also grief inviting me to sit. To remember what was and allow the ache of its absence to pull on my heart so strongly that words can’t bear their weight.

I want to tell the story of Christmases past, of the beauty in the magic of the season, the moments between my family, and the eager anticipation bundled in each moment. But to tell the story, to write the verbs in their past tense, has been more painful than I expected.

christmas parent tree
Picture sent from my sister – this year’s tree in my parents’ home.

It’s our second Christmas married and my first Christmas on another continent, in another climate, around a different culture. Up until this attempt to remember, I’ve straddled both worlds – I’ve put up the tree and lit my candle. I’ve read my Advent book and I’ve made hot chocolate. I tried my hand at making a parol, gone swimming, and saved Christmas shopping for the day before Christmas hoping that enough people will have left the city that I can maneuver through the mall (here’s hoping).

christmas swim
Some new Christmas traditions are heart-warming:)

It wasn’t just the words asking me to put them down in writing, it was the ache begging to be acknowledged. And while I’d rather Christmas be filled with magic and lights and happy things (which, even still it contains those things), I know it didn’t start that way. Because of that, I can let my longing join with the longings of the multitudes through the centuries. I can remember that the celebration of Christ’s birth begins with a family who were far from their home and comfort. After all, the promise of this event first came on the heels of death and then again to a man who also followed God far from his homeland.

While I may not capture the moments of Christmases past in words this year, I’ll allow the ache in my soul to come out in tears. I’ll Skype with my family from far away and we’ll join in gratitude for that new tradition. The ache and the gratitude, mixed with the lights and the magic, create new ways of celebrating the old, old Story.


Creating new traditions in our new home…
… sleepy pug and all.

9 thoughts on “Christmas Ache

  1. We love and miss you Christine. Thank you for sharing your heart. This is a year for new traditions for us all, one of which is missing you.


  2. Your post reminded me of my first Christmas here . . . it was a truly sad, aching day for me. Praying for you today . . . and that you will someday come to the point where you cherish and enjoy your Christmases here every bit as much as you ever did on the other side of the world. It CAN happen — I can attest to that 🙂


  3. Love you Christine! Praying for you. I remember our first Thanksgiving, first Christmas, birthdays in Hungary were a challenge, and many times tears. I know how much your family is a part of your life, as mine is, and its hard to be away from those you love. Even skype just doesn’t cut it! Praying for you and Trent as you continue to make your own traditions as a couple, and that Jesus will shower his love and comfort in the places that seem empty.


    1. I’m so thankful for you, Missions Mom. Thank you for these words, for your understanding, and especially your prayer. And you’re right, Skype is nice, but definitely not the same.


  4. This far more beautiful than remembering beauty of past seasons of Christmas. This is the beautiful fight to celebrate and enjoy when it costs you dearly. Oh friend, I resonate with that ache. This is my first PA Christmas, my first Christmas without my parents and brothers. Even though we’ll see them soon, the ache feels real for me too. I love that grief and gratitude truly DO belong in Christmas.This is brave writing and even braver living. Pride board, Christine. Love you so.


    1. Heart-ache twins too? Life’s more than just about twinning happiness. I also want you to know that every time you say “pride board,” I do this internal “YES.” and smile really big. Thank you for … you know, just being you and being an amazing encouragement to me.

      Liked by 1 person

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