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Much to my surprise this Christmas season, I find that I am estranged from what little family that I have left. After taking care of my elderly, widowed mom for 3 1/2 years, we have had a very hurtful disagreement that cannot be mended. I believe that for the sake of my physical health and sanity, I must now ask my brother to step up and take over her care. But unfortunately, their alliance is such, that I must separate myself from my brother as well. It’s a sad situation, but I have no regrets concerning my care and love for her, though it seems that I could never please her, or warrant her unconditional love and acceptance. (It’s time for me to save my life now.)

With a situation like this, it would be easy to think that this Christmas season will be the saddest ever. I guess it’s all in the attitude, but I plan to make it my best ever. Usually, I am so busy trying to please everyone else, by buying just the right Christmas gifts, decorating, cooking, and planning our family Christmas get-together, that the entire Christmas season goes by in a blur, and I don’t even have time to sing, “Silent Night.” I’m usually exhausted, grumpy, and disillusioned by the time the whole thing passes.

But this year, the Christmas season is going to be different! Oh, I forgot to mention that my daughter, who we adopted at age 3, (now age 20) will be going to England for the Christmas season to visit her birth mom and family, for the first time. So this truly leaves my husband and I on our own for the Christmas season. I confess that I have always secretly wished that I could escape during the Christmas season, and this year I actually can. My husband is going to surprise me with a get away. (Not far away, but a much needed change of scene.) I don’t know where we are going. But we will travel in our van, and I will take Christmas with us. I plan to decorate a small tree ahead of time, and pack it for the trip. I also plan to decorate the place with Christmas touches here and there, as well as taking along our favorite Christmas music, both for the ride, and to create a Christmas feeling in the room. Candles will also be included to create a warm, inviting atmosphere, as we open our gifts. It actually sounds more romantic than anything we’ve done in years…

Another way I plan to celebrate the Christmas season this year, since I am estranged from my family, is to reach out to others–both friends and strangers. I plan to reconnect with the friends that I have neglected during the past few years, due to being an overwhelmed caregiver. Perhaps a lunch with a long lost girlfriend, or dinner with a couple we miss. I love to make Christmas baskets, so perhaps I will make baskets for friends this year, to help me get in the Christmas spirit.

I will also be on the lookout for strangers to bless. There are so many people hurting right now, and what could be more meaningful than helping those in need? It might be a Christmas money gift for some, or just a thoughtful gesture for others. It’s amazing how small things can brighten someone’s Christmas season. I remember once, a few years ago, there was an elderly black woman shopping in my favorite gift store. I noticed that she was admiring a beautiful candelabra, and saying to her friend that she would love to have it, but couldn’t afford it right now. I also stopped to admire how gorgeous it was. While she was in another part of the store, I quickly purchased it for her and told her that “Jesus loves you, and wanted you to have this.” I will never forget the smile on her face, and her understanding that the blessing was truly from the Lord, not me. She was so happy, and so was I. That’s the true spirit of Christmas giving. Try it, and you will experience the Christmas season in a new way.

And I might spend a few minutes (of the time that I would have spent shopping for my family), looking at the wonder on the faces of little ones, during this Christmas season. Perhaps I can also regain some of that magic and excitement that Christmas brings to children.

Most of all, I want to spend some time acknowledging Christ. He is who the Christmas season is truly about. But for so long, He has gotten lost in my busy preparations for the holiday season. I want to read the Christmas story, and really think about what it means that a Savior was born. He is the greatest gift ever given. And for far too long, there has been “no room in the inn” (or our hearts) for Him at Christmas.

One of my favorite stories has always been O. Henry’s “The Gift of The Magi.” If you haven’t ever read it, (or even if you have)-it’s an excellent tale of the meaning of selfless giving, and true love. Perhaps I’ll also take the time to read other Christmas stories, and to visit the bookstore and browse through Christmas magazines.

I’ll take a ride through nearby neighborhoods and look at the Christmas lights, while playing my favorite carols. And just for fun, I’ll visit the mall and get a feel for the Christmas season crowds, and the frenetic hurried activity, while drinking an eggnog shake, and just relaxing.

If you are estranged from love ones, and feeling sad this Christmas season, try some of my suggestions, and reach out to others, and to the One that Christmas is all about. And don’t forget to do some things that make you happy also. You may just find that this can be the best Christmas season ever!

You can make a difference in someone’s life…

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  1. Hi Lonnette,

    I have also tried to help my family members and always get the “you think you’re better than me” response. They were always willing to take my money, home, etc., but if I stood up for myself – I was a cold-hearted bitch. I have distanced myself from every family member I have and it is just me and my daughter these last two months and it is very hard to think that people you honestly gave everything to in order to help them could turn on you. I lost my home, savings, car, daughter’s college money so that I could help them and I now share an apartment with a sister and her two sons that do not speak to me after all of the times I have denied myself and my daughter for her and her sons. I tried too hard to please and still struggle not to help when I see someone going without. I am trying to find inner peace with my personal and professional life as I work in a negative environment, but believe that you are right in caring for yourself from now on. I don’t have any friends where I live as all my time was spent with my sister and I moved across the country to get away from the rest of my family (sister followed anyway). I do have friends back home and we write each other, but not the same when they aren’t here so you could go and visit. I am slowly doing more things outside of the home like volunteering as I need to reconnect with who I am as I don’t know what I like or don’t like anymore as all my energy went to others wants and needs. I wish peace for you and may God Bless you in this difficult time.

  2. Denise: Bless your heart. You sound like a loving, generous person, who thinks of others. I know how difficult it must be for you, but just remember that if you went on as you were, you would have completely lost yourself in the process. The money, home, and other material things can be replaced, but your soul cannot. We have to try and get healthy, and find ourselves once again in this crazy world. I’ll pray for you that you find peace and comfort in the One who loves you unconditionally. Stop by any time, and thanks for your comment. Hugs-Sparkle

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