More on Christmas Loneliness
It’s all well and good for healthy families that churches close so all can stay home this year on a Christmas Sunday. But many do not realize the sense of normalcy and essential fellowship Sundays provide for many single parents. Many do not realize the chaos and heartache single parents live with, which is exacerbated by the Christmas holiday season. Yes, we have children but they are torn between two worlds, often worlds that are threatening to them or which try to work alienation from us into their hearts. When this heart-alienation is successful, even having them with us on a Christmas can be very difficult to bear. When they are not with us, we worry and cannot enjoy a family gathering, or worse, we sit at home alone.
I have gone home alone after almost every Christmas Eve service in the past 20 years since my family celebrates on Christmas Day. At times I wished the service were 3 hours long. I can say I have learned to love that quiet time at home though; it has become a necessary time in the presence of God, a healthy ritual release of sorrows built up over the year. These days, even if I get an invitation I turn it down for that reason. I need that sacred space that comes only once a year. Now that the children are grown and gone, a different kind of heartache sets in; one of years that cannot be regained and dreams of happy intact family life that will never be experienced. As they marry, they are again divided between two more worlds, spending time with in-laws. Family gatherings become triggers for painful memories, year after year accumulated, and creating a lump in the throat as I watch other family members with their children happily hugging both mom and dad, and mom and dad kissing and showing off gifts and exchanging knowing glances. I look away. I should be happy! And I am, really, for them. I have a wonderful, large family. I get by quite well, I tell myself. It could be far worse, I say. And tomorrow, this will all be over, for another year. It’s like a recurring dream from which I awaken grateful, December 26th morn.
If you know someone who is a single parent, and you find out they will not be alone on Christmas don’t assume everything is fine: let them know you understand that they have struggles and give them a hug and pray for their hearts and tell them they are loved –and show them! Sorrow can be very serious business this time of year.