My favorite part of the Christmas season is the cards. Love em. I love to think about what I will do with ours this year. I love to see who I hear from. I love to see my friends and their kids. I love to hear all that is going on in the lives of people near and far. Love it. The trend in the last several years is the photo card and that my friends, is by far the best! It’s the silly poses, the smiling faces, the joy that radiates from the page. It connects us.
Several years ago I put together an extra fun Christmas letter. In the letter I had pictures of our times throughout the year. A picture of Drew in nursing school. Pictures of our kids. A picture of Drew and I on a super fun trip to London, England. I told about all our travels and adventures, it was great fun to make that card come alive. But, after the holidays, as I visited with a friend from years past, she confided to me that my card was hard to get. She shared the difficulty of seeing all that our family had done and the adventures we had, when her family had not experienced that. That hit me hard. I hadn’t even considered that. I just thought people would appreciate hearing what we had been up to. I knew that much more had gone on with us than those picture perfect moments. But what I portrayed was a year to remember. A year with no cracks. A year that wasn’t truly complete.
So since that card, I’ve been more careful. I stick to the photos. I have fun with it, but I’m aware. Aware of the not so picture perfect year that others have endured. Aware that my own year has had it’s aches and pains as well. Don’t get me wrong, I love to hear from friends. I’ve got nothing against the letter or card. I just remember that this is only a glimpse into the lives of people I love.
Recently a well known blogger, Glennon, from Momastery, has been painfully honest about a situation that has broken her family. She wrote a post about this very thing and it resonated with me. She said,
“Look for the holes in those pictures this year. The spaces between arms and curls and precious little knees. GOD IS THERE. Say a little prayer for every family you see.
God- stay close to the family in this picture. And that one and that one and that one. Snuggle in between them and stay all year. Remind them , constantly, that their mess is holy.
Me too. Remind me, too.”
If I had to write a newsletter for our year, I’m not sure where I would begin. But folks, it wasn’t a picture perfect one. It was a good one. It was a tough one.
Our kids had amazing teachers!
One of our kids really struggled in school.
We spent our vacation with our family in Northern Michigan!
Our hearts ache at the distance between us and our loved ones.
Drew ran his first marathon and did an amazing job!
He ran it in honor of a friend with ovarian cancer who suffered greatly. She passed away and we miss her like crazy.
We are blessed to have a church and friends that go deep with us!
One of our pastors resigned. Our church is hurting.
And so it goes…
But in all that hard stuff, growth happened. It happened in our children, it happened in us. It wasn’t always what we would have wanted or chosen, but it was. And so in keeping our hearts open, we receive it. We let it change us. We let the light in those cracked places.
And so as the cards arrive at my house this year, I will do my best to pray that prayer. I will look at those beautiful faces and remember that no matter the year, no matter the mess, with thanks for the good, it is holy.
God is there.
Photo by Donovan Roberts Witmer