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Issue 10 - ©2001 by Kari West - Garden
Topic: Encountering a Christmas Past
Once again it's Christmas--that season when
holiday get-together reconnect us with loved ones. For those
of us who have experienced a family breakup, it is often a
time of heightened sadness as painful memories are rekindled,
reminding us of who is not present and what we have lost.
More often than not, finances are tight; and at the very time
we are struggling to start new lives and make new traditions,
our children are resentful, longing for "the family that was."
This year, if you can't quite get into the holiday spirit,
take heart. You are not alone. You are among a growing sisterhood
intimately acquainted with the turmoil that you are going
through. We are here to encourage you to believe that you,
too, can and will survive.
In fact, do you know what would have happened
if there had been Three Wise Women instead of Three Wise Men?
- They would have asked directions.
- Arrived on time.
- Helped deliver the baby.
- Cleaned the stable.
- Made a casserole.
- Brought practical gifts.
- And there would be Peace on Earth.
Here's what's new:
This month Kari finished writing another
book for women. "Dare to Trust, Dare to Hope Again--Living
With Losses of the Heart" is being published under the
Faithful Woman imprint of ChariotVictor Publishing, Colorado
Springs, CO and is scheduled for release Fall of 2001. (Watch
for details in future newsletters. Autographed copies will
be available through her web site, www.gardenglories.com or by writing
P. O. Box 11692, Pleasanton, CA 94588 or e-mailing).
In this 10th issue of the DivorceWise
newsletter, the featured survival story from a woman just
like you comes from Maurine. She speaks of Christmas.
reflection ... by Maurine in Colorado
Christmas is my favorite time of year. I
love the decorating, baking, music, programs, cards, parties,
family gatherings, and finding the perfect gift. I love to
see the happy faces of my family.
My first Christmas with my "now ex-husband"
was spent 1500 miles from any family. It was the first time
I was away from family at the holidays. The second Christmas
we were thousands of miles away, and I had to mail all packages
by mid-October in order for them to arrive on time. It was
at this time that he decided on this rule--I wasn't to decorate
or play Christmas music until after Thanksgiving.
When my kids were young, I loved to use
their handmade ornaments to decorate. At that time, they loved
to see their creations on the tree. But when they grew older,
they thought they were too childish. Today, I still have these
ornaments and they bring back wonderful memories.
A few years ago, we lived in the same city
as one of my ex-husband's brothers. He and his wife had three
small children. It was the first time we had any family close
by to celebrate Christmas with. When they learned of our separation,
they sent me a note thanking me for always remembering their
children. That note meant so much to me. Thinking about it
still brings tears to my eyes.
These past two years, since my ex-husband
left, Christmas has been really difficult. That first year
of the divorce, my college-age son didn't want to spend the
holiday with either of us and didn't give anyone a gift. Although
my daughter was living with me, she also spent time with her
dad. It was like none of us knew where we fit.
Last year I thought about starting new traditions,
but then decided that I'm still the same person. So, on Thanksgiving
night, I decorated. I put out the nativity set that my children
used to play with. I hung ornaments and memories on a tree.
I decided if my children come home this year, I want them
to see that I am still the same person even though my circumstances
have changed. After all, it's Jesus' birthday and that's what
we are really celebrating.
This year I will be alone. My son and daughter
are visiting their father and his new family overseas. I figure
that the best gift I can give my children and myself is the
good news that God still loves us no matter what happens in
our lives. Our Lord is still in control. And I am still the
same mom who prays for them every single day and loves them
unconditionally--wherever they are and whoever they are with.
Help for today ... by Kari
Whatever emotions this season holds for
you--whether you feel glad, sad, or mad--remember that you
won't stay stuck where you are today. Each year will bring
different emotions as you encounter the ghosts of a Christmas
past. With each encounter, your heart wounds will reopen,
bleed a little, then re-heal. In time, you will see that you
are growing stronger and moving forward.
Thirteen years ago this December, when I
stuck my hand in the mailbox and pulled out a divorce summons,
I didn't have a clue how long it would take to heal the rejection
and betrayal I had experienced. No one told me that not only
would the holidays changed forever, but so would I. I didn't
know that initially I would cry whenever I heard Christmas
carols on the radio, later I would despise them, and a decade
down the road enjoy them once again. No one warned me that
all the ornaments I had collected and crafted over 22 years
of marriage would weigh too heavy in my hand to ever hang
on a tree again and that I would sell the entire box for $5
at a garage sale. I never expected that some years I would
feel like decorating a tree, while other years I would wish
Christmas didn't exist. Certainly,13 years ago I never imagined
that this year I would finally succumb to an artificial tree,
which is not only the beginning of a new tradition but a symbol
of an emerging flexibility.
So before you beat yourself up for feeling
overwhelmed by and alienated with this season, take a look
at these statistics. You'll notice that you fit right in.
- 43% of us have artificial trees
- Only 66% of us bake cookies
- 74% do special decorating
- Only 52% of us install outdoor lights
I don't know about your house, but mine
does not even come close to the cozy cover of your favorite
magazine. On the fireplace mantel, there are no pine boughs
woven with cranberries, tinsel, and bows. The freezer is not
stocked with containers of gingerbread men and frosted cut-out
cookies. And my table centerpiece is not a 3-foot ice sculpture
that I laboriously carved with my chain saw last weekend after
watching Martha Stewart.
What my house does have is a candle in every
room, just in case the power goes out--and because I love
the flickering glow. Perhaps one of the most atmosphere-inspiring,
mood-setting items that can be used as a decoration in a house
is the candle. Candlelight seems especially welcome during
the holidays as the days grow shorter. A single candle can
scatter our present darkness and inspire us to look beyond
the shadows of holidays past.
Last week I discovered a dented canister
of candles at the bottom of a dusty box on my storage shelf.
As I popped the lid and peered inside, an oily aroma punctured
the air. Soon I was cradling in my palm three ivory-colored
angels once belonging to my grandmother and a couple of bent-out-of-shape
choir boys. Peeling the tissue paper from their waxy bodies,
I uncovered memories of childhood innocence and Christmas
wonder--and the unescapable ravages of time. Many of these
little paraffin bodies were bent and broken from years of
moving here and there. One was split at the waist, held together
only by a thin wick running from head to toe. Its surface
was scarred and scratched.
I saw myself in this candle. The tissue
I had peeled from its face had lifted the color from its cheeks
like divorce had erased my expectations and altered my identity.
I too am broken and scarred. I too have lost my innocence
As I placed the candle on my kitchen counter
and lit a match to melt the two parts into one, I was both
awed and grateful for those nail-scarred heavenly hands that
came to earth to not only cradle my brokenness but to light
my way to wholeness. I thought about the words of Colossians
1:17--"In Him all things hold together" and I marveled at
the stability of God's love that courses through my heart
When others' love is fickle, we can count
on God to be faithful. He is like a wick running from head
to toe that holds us secure. In the midst of change, He remains
Our Savior was born into a world of much
like our own with its political upheaval and personal betrayal,
making Him intimately acquainted with our suffering. He died,
like we will; but death could not destroy Him. A musty tomb
could not snuff out His light. Because of Jesus, divorce need
not destroy us. Because of Him, we have here-and-now hope
and the hope of heaven. Because of Him, we can hold our heads
high during this holiday season. We can dare to hope again,
to start new lives, and to make new traditions in the midst
of life's ever-changing circumstances.
A promise you can trust
"But I trust in you, O Lord; I say,
'You are my God.' My times are in your hands; deliver me from
my enemies and from those who pursue me. Let your face shine
on your servant; save me in your unfailing love." ---Psalm
stop by again soon
Please let me hear from you. I answer every
letter and e-mail. Also, be encouraged to share what helped
you through your divorce so others know they are not alone
and that they too will survive. E-mail by Clicking Here
or write Kari West, P. O. Box 11692, Pleasanton, CA 94588.