December 26, 2010

Finding the Christmas spirit

— The other night, I went out to take a look at some Christmas displays, in preparation for a story for this week’s Tuttle paper.

I hoped to see some pretty lights, but not being in a holiday mood, I left my husband and children at home. I wanted to look around and get it done.

For those of you who don’t know, I lost my Christmas spirit just before Christmas 2009, when my sister, Marissa, died on Nov.7 – just 10 days shy of her daughter’s first birthday.

Marissa died of an accidental prescription overmedication. She was 38. She had arthritis, and other ailments, and either the medication built up in her body or she took one too many. We don’t really know.

That Christmas was hard. Her little girl was staying with me while her dad prepared to take her, and the loss I felt was terrible. Marissa was my best friend – and that doesn’t even begin to describe it. Just writing this is causing the grief to well up inside of me.

This Christmas is hard too. The pain is duller –my everyday companion. Where my life once seemed full of joy, and hope, there is a quiet sad- ness that I can’t shake.

I should be happy. I know that. I have three beautiful children and a supportive husband. I have my mother, and my other sister, and their families. But my heart is still broken, and that is a hard thing to fix.

So I went and looked at the lights. I took a little reporter’s notebook and a pen, and parked in front of homes, and took notes. While driving, I saw a sign for a light display in Bridge Creek. I followed the signs, and found the house.

A car was already parked, watching the lights. It was one of the displays set to music, and the music was broadcast where I could pick it up in my car.

The display was big – really big, and had a big tree and lots of strings of lights all over. A big gold star atop the house completed the show.

I sat, and I took notes, and I watched.

While I sat, four more cars came and parked behind me. We were all lined up like a train, watching the dancing lights. And I felt a stirring in my heart. It was joy – real joy – and I was surprised to feel it there. Watching those lights twinkle and skip to the music made the Christmas joy rise up the surface in a way I hadn’t felt in two years.

I whispered a prayer of thanks as I continued to gaze at the star atop the house and the rest of the lights. It was truly beautiful – both the display and the feelings inside me.

When the music started over, I reluctantly put my car into drive, turned my lights back on, and pulled out. I saw many other pretty lights that night, and finally returned home, thinking about what I’d seen.

Now, two days later, I’m back to feeling the emptiness that has been my constant companion. But for that moment, it was there. I felt it. I can remember it. And I know now that it can come back. It’s just going to take a long time.

Thank you to everyone in the local community that put up light displays for Christmas this year. You never know what kind of effect it will have on a stranger.

It may not be the most perfect way to celebrate the birth of a King in a manger, but it’s certainly a visual one – and it can truly be a blessing in another’s life.

It was to mine.

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