Syndi Powell here. All this talk about family traditions and the holidays reminds me of the people I've lost that won't be there to celebrate this year. One of them is my dad.
The above ornament is one that he made when he was in kindergarten. It was usually one of the first ones that graced our tree every year, and after he died, we kept that tradition alive. The ornament circulates between my two sisters and I so that we all share it. This year, it will be on my youngest sister's tree which means it will come back to me for next year.
Holidays without the ones we love are difficult. It's like there's a hole that the person used to fill, and nothing can quite fill it no matter how we try. That doesn't mean that the holiday doesn't go on because it has to. But it also means that traditions that we hang on to need to change.
There's a little known Christmas song called "Merry Christmas with Love" where an older woman is sitting alone in her house. There's no tree or gifts. Those she loved are now gone, and she's alone. And then she hears carolers singing outside. The silence of her life is now filled with song, and she finds herself going out and joining them.
I'll admit that this song makes me tear up every time. Because I know people like that older woman who feel alone. Unloved. Unwanted. And my heart breaks for them especially at this time of year. In youth group, we would often go caroling at the senior homes. The delight on their faces warmed us even as we tramped through snow and ice. I know of one family who invites to dinner all the college students who can't go home for the holidays and gets them a small gift so that they'll feel included.
So maybe this Christmas, we should remember those who are absent from our holidays. Perhaps spend a moment thinking of them and cherishing our memories with them. But what if we also share some time with someone who has no one? That would be a gift not only to the lonely, but to us as well.
Merry Christmas, everyone!