This Is Christmas

It’s Christmas.

But, it doesn’t feel like it, for multiple reasons.

Sandal heels, 68 degrees, Christmas Eve in Georgia (Dec. 2016)

I am in Georgia. It’s 70 degrees. I’m not in Minnesota. There’s no snow. I’m not surrounded by energetic cousins. It doesn’t feel like December. Last Christmas didn’t feel like it happened. My recent mental awakening is still confusing me a bit. I don’t really know what to feel or what to do. Our normal Christmas traditions aren’t taking place.

The biggest reason that it doesn’t feel like Christmas is because I’m not with my brother. Derek isn’t here. I’m not there. We are 1,129 miles away from each other. I can assure you, this unfortunate reality will not happen, ever again. Christmas isn’t the same without him. I miss him.

Derek and I in GA (Nov. 2016)

This Christmas may not be my ‘ideal’ Christmas. But God put me in this place for a reason. And I’m just beginning to realize His reason: for me to heal. He has a plan that is much greater than anything I can ever imagine.

I may not be surrounded by extended family. I may not have gone to church at my childhood church. I may not be putting on my winter boots to go play in the snow. I may be feeling nauseous. I may be in a significant amount of pain. I may not be spending Christmas like I’d hoped. However, I am spending Christmas the best way I can, and know how.

I don’t have to answer questions. I don’t have to be constantly enthusiastic. I’m not obligated to participate. I don’t have to deal with overstimulation. I can cope with pain comfortably and still have patience. I am with my parents and grandma. Just the four of us. Nothing over the top. Nothing I can’t handle. For that, I thank God. I haven’t realized till recently, but I am in the right place, physically, to heal. I am in a place without distraction. I am in a place with all the time I need, and some. I am in a place without obligation. I am in a place to get healthy. And for now, this is okay. It’s not permanent, and I’ll be stronger soon. God provides, in every way possible; He always has and always will. That alone is a reason to celebrate.

This Christmas, I’m okay with the imperfect situation. It’s not ideal, but it’s life. A life that I’ve been given, by the grace of God, with every intention of love and light. For that, I thank God.

Midnight Candle light service at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi, MN (Dec. 2015)

It doesn’t feel like Christmas, but I am going to give it all I’ve got to feel Christmas. I am no longer completely dazed. I am not numb anymore. I am ready to be present. Christmas is a time of celebration, a time of love because God loved us, a time to recognize God’s greatest gift, a time to give thanks for that gift. I will let the good news of Jesus Christ sink in. I will embrace the sole reason why we come together on this day. I will be okay with a not-so-ideal Christmas, because the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ is so incredibly amazing, that despite the lack of Christmas tradition, I will rejoice.

Newsflash people, Christmas isn’t about snow, or your normal traditions. Yeah, that makes things fun and normal, but God’s ultimate gift is what Christmas is about. And I can tell you right now, that from here on out, no matter where I am, who I’m with, or what I’m doing, Christmas will always be a time to celebrate and rejoice; a time to share good news and spread infinite amounts of love. A white Christmas, with my brother, and extended family, with traditions and good food is great, and I’ll appreciate those Christmases, but I don’t necessarily need those things to celebrate Christmas. Because all I need, right now, and forever, is the reminder of God’s ultimate, most glorious gift to me, and to you.

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Frozen falls at Cascade Falls in Osceola, WI (Jan. 2016)

This Christmas has been more than eye-opening. I have been given a second chance. I have been given more grace and love than I ever could’ve dreamt. God has put people in my life this year who have encouraged me, who have loved me, who have cared for me, who have helped me, who have believed in me, and who have changed my life for the better. I am so grateful, and beyond blessed for these gifts. I can see that life is good, clearly. I understand how good God is, clearly. I can feel how good love is, clearly. These are gifts that deserve to be celebrated everyday, and I will. And Jesus Christ is a gift that needs to be celebrated daily, and I will.

Be present, wherever you are, and give thanks. Be in the now, everyday, and give thanks. For the obvious things, for the little things, for the major things, for rare things. God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good.

Merry Christmas to all!

Elise Hendrickson

P.S. Derek, I miss you, lots!

“She is tossed by the waves, but does not sink.”

*If you want to read more on my mental clarity, you can find the three part blog posts here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

**Check out my photography blog for Christmas lights and other fun photographs here!


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