It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or not. Mostly not for a lot of people I love.

The sentimental songs, the snow, and all the stuff can serve as reminders of estranged family, or no family, or family that is very far away; of cold nights spent in stairwells or under a bridge or in a house that is not a home; of no money for rent or food or presents. For me, this month is magnifying the absence of my mom. I am also admittedly feeling a weariness about the excessive commercial nature of Christmas. Part of me wants to hibernate until January.

Today we had our Monday Drop-In. Interspersed throughout the day were interactions with people experiencing a variety of emotions. Some were grieving lost relationships and the death of loved ones. A number of people lit up when a new friend of The Dale showed up with their six-month old baby. Others expressed anger and frustration at life. A few joined in a rendition of Silent Night. By the end of the day my heart was heavy because though there were many sweet moments, there was much sadness.

Yesterday we gathered together for our Sunday service and lit the Advent candle that represents joy. What does it mean to not just experience a fleeting happiness, but a grounded joy in whatever our circumstances might be? A number of people, many of whom were at the drop-in today, and all no stranger to challenge, contributed to the discussion. We encouraged one another to not allow our struggles to define us or rob us of joy, to practice gratitude for even the smallest of things, to learn to rejoice, and to again and again, choose joy.

Right now, even as I sit here feeling burdened for my friends and missing my mom, I am trying to slow down and do what we talked about yesterday. I hunger for the peace that passes all understanding, something I know is real and gratefully regularly experience. It helps to remember that the impact of Christmas is to be felt everyday of the year, not just on the 25th, for light has pierced the darkness and brought with it hope and yes, joy.

“May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy.” Psalm 126:5-6

Light in the Darkness

9 thoughts on “When Christmas Hurts

    1. We have drop-ins both days! Drop-in on Monday is from 10 am – 3 pm at 250 Dunn Avenue with lunch being served at 1 pm. The breakfast/art drop-in is on Wednesday from 10 am to 12 pm at Parkdale Community Health Centre.

  1. Thank you Erin, for your beautiful post. I wish I could be a part of your community team in person. The time is not yet right, but I continue to seek God’s leading. You are, as always, in my prayers. — Shannon

  2. dear Erin may you and your family have a blessed Christmas and New Year.
    I,love the verse Psalm 126-3. God is so good and He sent His love gift . The Lord Jesus, the Reason for,the Season. Love you, Grandma Jean Ireland.

  3. Thank you Erinn for your beautiful post, it rings very true. May you enjoy a great Christmas and a happy New year with your family and may God bless you

  4. Hi Erinn, Thanks for putting down what we talked about in church. Thank you for identifying what brings you down in your life. I like your realness, of talking about something that so many of us face. I for one know that I’ll probably be reading this over a few times in the coming months.
    I will be praying for you and your family on Christmas Day.
    Choosing Joy is a challenge at this time of year. A challenge worth pursuing.

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