The Angel and The Christmas Stocking
Christmas Music fills the air. Every shop, every home, every radio station seems to be reeking of it.
Downtown is busy with shoppers crossing off their Christmas list, making sure they get all they can for the least amount of money, cinnamon scented everything is everywhere.
To some people when this time of year rolls around it reminds them of Baby Jesus, or Santa Claus, Egg Nog, Roasted Ham, and colorful gifts under trees.
For me, Christmas is like a blaring siren, unlike any other time of year that reminds me of the loved ones I miss. The one who isn’t sitting at the Holiday Feast, the small set of footsteps that won’t be running down the stairs on Christmas morning. My small son who passed away at two years old.
For many of us, others like me who face the holidays with a constant ache in their hearts while simultaneously passing out paper-plates of snacks to neighbors and smiling at the others near and dear to us as they unwrap their treasures; Christmas is hollow.
Working in retail as I do, I meet a variety of people having a variety of feelings about the holidays every year, but what pulls my heart the most is those who are facing their “first” holiday without the one they miss.
The First, is the most anguishing. The subsequent seasons are never as bad, because although the pain is the same; you’ve gotten through it before- and you know you will again.
A woman who recently lost her husband of 35 years came into my jewelry store to have her Wedding ring sized to fit after having not worn it for over a decade, she casually said “It’s my Christmas Gift to me.” To which I replied “Oh, well then, Merry Christmas.” I smiled, but she looked me bitterly in the eye and spoke saying: “I hate it.”
That is when she showed me the old black and white photograph of her late husband in a naval uniform that she held in her wallet. “I don’t even know what to do.” She was despondent.
So, I shared with her my experience of my first Christmas without Jonah, and what we did as a family to resolve the problem of the Christmas stocking.
I am sharing it here today, because for everyone I have shared this with, they have taken it to heart and it has given them peace and healing in an otherwise circling dilemma.
Do I hang Jonah’s stocking? Do I not? Do I buy him gifts he’ll never play with? Do I leave it empty? I couldn’t bear the thought of having it empty on Christmas morning, nor could I dare to keep it down. In the same way a child still has a mother if she has passed away- I still am mother to my child. He is still my child.
Every Christmas morning the first thing we do as a family is open Jonah’s stocking and there find an Angel Ornament left by Santa Claus. Together we hang the ornament on our tree. This year we will hang our 9th.
It’s a quiet and humble scene. Something peaceful and sentimental before the explosion of paper and cardboard.
This simple tradition for us, keeps us bonded in love and in remembrance of what the Season is all about. Regardless of religious preference, most of the world would agree that Family is what the season is about. In this way we pay homage to it, and remember him.