As I drove into the garage on a snowy winter's day, Bing Crosby was crooning
I'll Be Home For Christmas on the radio.
The lyrics stung, as it would be our first Christmas season without our eldest son,
Davis, who had been killed in a traffic accident six months earlier.
Decorating the tree was one of our favorite family traditions.
I thought about the carols that would be playing as we untangled the tree
lights and laid out our collection of ornaments.
Each ornament had a history and a story.
How would we get through Christmas without Davis?
Our friends, Jim and Fiona, knew how difficult this first Christmas would be for us.
They too were facing their own Goliath.
Jim had been diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour the year before and was in full battle mode.
He and Fiona understood how precious life was.
Yet they were determined to brighten our home by bringing over a
home-cooked meal and spending an evening with us.
As I looked out the window into the neighborhood, I noticed our neighbors homes
outlined in colored lights and festive displays.
Our house was usually one of the earliest to be decorated.
Not this year, we were the hurting house.
I went back into my kitchen to put the finishing touches on the appetizers I was preparing.
The doorbell rang a little earlier than I expected.
My husband and I met at the entrance, ready to greet the Preston's.
To our amazement, our snow-covered yard was filled with flickering
candles and familiar faces singing, We Wish You a Merry Christmas.
There were carolers as far as the eye could see.
The sound was angelic. One carol followed another in beautiful harmony, with faces
aglow in the candlelight.
As tears flooded my eyes, I felt such gratitude for this meaningful gesture of love.
All was calm, all was bright.
Several of our neighbors opened their doors to the songs of the carolers and joined in.
After another carol had been sung on this cold winters night, someone piped up with,
well, can we come in now? The initial dinner plan had been a ruse to gather together our
friends and colleagues in a Christmas experience we would never forget, one that we
needed so desperately. Within minutes, a potluck of Christmas dishes appeared from
the back seats of cars or from their hidden places under bushes.
We stoked the fireplace, brought out the eggnog, and filled our home to
capacity with the large group that had gathered. Christmas would never
be the same as it had been during our eighteen years with Davis, but I
realized something that night. Joy can trump sorrow.
Love came down and gathered on our doorstep.
Jim and Fiona had given us the wondrous gift of community to fill the gap.
It set the tone for the Christmas season that followed.
Even though Davis wouldn't be home with us, God compensated for our
loss with a love so evident in this gesture of friendship and support.
Each caroler had taken a piece of our heartache from us.
As I looked around at the smiling faces in our crowded house, I knew I
wanted to decorate the tree tomorrow, assured that Davis would be
present with me in a different but meaningful way.
He'd be home for Christmas if only in my heart.
Healing requires from us to stop struggling, but to enjoy life more and endure it less.