Merry Christmas. It’s a term that I’ve used for my entire life without any thought whatsoever. This year though, using that term comes with a twinge. A twinge of guilt over feeling slightly merry in a time that is often anything but. A twinge of doubt as I wonder if the person receiving my greeting is perhaps in a storm much like my own. By all accounts, our Christmas celebrations have been wonderful. From the community we call family that loves us so well, to the pure and innocent joy that wrapping paper brings to a toddler, our home has been full of so much merriment in the last 48 hours. My how thankful I am for that.

I slightly dreaded today. I was worried that my deep (and dark) desire to skip the day and all of its traditions would take over. How could I enjoy this day for Audrey Nole when I miss George Mason so much? How could I smile and laugh and get excited over a bike and stockings when my heart is so broken? The reality is that I can’t. I. Can’t. Couldn’t. Didn’t. There was nothing about the joy and excitement of this day that I did anything to prepare myself for or survive - and even thrive - through. Every ounce of good that came of today was because of my Savior; the birth that we celebrate. The “good tidings of great joy” has never felt more relevant to my life than it does right now, in this moment.

My God is good. He is Wonderful Counselor. Mighty God. Everlasting Father. Prince of Peace. I need to say that one again: Prince of Peace.  Peace. That’s exactly what I felt today. I was humbled to feel peace in the midst of these circumstances. Peace that gave me the freedom to fully feel and experience the very real and wonderful joy that came from today. There were no tears on this first Christmas without our son. There was only abundant gratitude for knowing that he’s in heaven. Knowing that he’s at the feet of the very one we are here celebrating. That he is no longer in the long season of advent, but instead has been renewed. That is the greatest gift ever given; to me as his mama and to him as the recipient of the salvation that came of that birth (and death) all those years ago.

Merry Christmas. It may seem like it’s not quite fitting to this season of life we are in, but honestly, there’s nothing more fitting. Thank you, Lord, for the gift of peace today and your perfect mercies for December, 25, 2017.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.” Isaiah 9:6-7