The holidays, so far

I’ve figured out why I get so stressed out during the holidays. It’s not the shopping, the party-hosting, the baking, or any of the general rushing around that gets to me—at least, not directly. It’s actually the rarity of moments like this that can become wearing—moments when I can sit in front of my laptop and spill a little of myself onto a blank page. It’s been too long since my last blog entry and even longer since I worked on any of my books. I’ve always needed to write. I just didn’t know it until recently.

Writing is a comfort to me, an escape of sorts. I have others: singing, photography, reading. But there’s something special about writing that helps me to work through my problems, not just feel better about them. I have a box filled with random things I’ve written through the years, and there’s a trend in them. All of my most heartfelt writing has come in the wake of tragedy. It always starts sad and ends with hope, though I never did that intentionally. Writing is my way of giving myself a pep-talk, it seems, and I guess I’m doing that now.

“Yes, you can get through another Christmas without him. It won’t be easy, but you can do it.”

When I was a child the holidays were pure magic. My few problems, though I’m sure they seemed huge at the time, were so small. I worried about whether or not the boy I had a crush on thought I was pretty or whether or not my mother would get the Christmas Barbie for me before they were sold out. The greatest loss I had suffered had been our pet Chihuahua, and that had seemed so tragic. Even then my writings reflected my pain, followed by my hope for better days.

Last Christmas I was struggling with a pain I couldn’t describe. I still can’t. As a reminder to myself and to those to whom it means the most, I will paste in what I wrote to get through it.


This Christmas I have been struggling to find joy. I have said things that shocked even me. It seems so wrong to sit and watch the world celebrating while I have this ache, and I find myself resenting those who are happiest. Those who have dared to ask me what I want for Christmas have gotten nothing but an incredulous stare. What do I want? I want what I can’t have. I want Mikey back. I want to see a light in the eyes of the ones I love so much who are suffering. I want to be able to celebrate without hating myself for it. I’ve been praying for something to bring me out of this pit, something to rejoice about, something new.

I was saved when I was five, and I know now just as I knew then the meaning of Christmas. I have no trouble being thankful for the gift of our Savior and what it means for my future. Why then could I not be joyful in the season of His birth? Even knowing this I have had trouble keeping myself from pulling all the decorations down and shoving them back into the attic.

Today the answer came as I was cleaning my house for Christmas Day and thinking how I’d rather just skip it altogether. It was the something new I needed.

The one thing I wanted most, to see Mikey again, was the exact thing that God was giving me when He sent Jesus. It was a promise that while death would still come, it would not be permanent. Not only did He give us that gift, but He did it in a way that mirrored our pain. He chose to be separated from His Son so that we could be freed from separation. I wondered to myself how He could stand to do it, how He could willingly be separated from His Son.

The answer is that He knew that it would not be permanent. Even though I have known this from the start, I somehow managed to react to Mikey’s death as if it were permanent. The knowledge that I would see him again was what kept me going, but at the same time, I was not seeing that knowledge for the gift that it is. How amazing is our God that He would subject Himself to this kind of pain for us? The one thing I would ask for had already been granted.

This year I will rejoice in a way I never have before. In an ideal situation, I would opt for no separation at all. But given a choice between temporary separation and permanent separation, there can be no contest. I will see Mikey again because of that precious gift of a baby in a manger.


The good news is that I’m stronger and happier this year. It took reading what I wrote a year ago to see that. And that is one of the many reasons I write.


Mikey’s flowers


~ by Rachel McMahon on December 6, 2010.

One Response to “The holidays, so far”

  1. Great writing Rachel. Easy and comforting reading for me. Your right we will see our loved ones again. Thank You Jesus!!!!! I’m praying for you because I do know your heart hurts Rachel!

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