The first year after a loved one dies, all those milestone moments in the year are very hard – birthdays, holidays, – and, of course, Christmas. The empty place at the table is very hard to deal with. In recent years many Churches have begun to put on special services called “Blue Christmas” – these happen early in December, and they are for people who are facing Christmas alone for the first time, or for whom Christmas brings back feelings of shock or sadness, instead of joy and celebration.
My Dad always used to come to my house for Christmas. We would go to my Chapel for the morning service. Back home, he always made me put my feet up while he cooked the chicken. Then we opened presents and watched a movie, like most families do, and all was right with the world.
When he died, it was only two months before Christmas, and I was at a loss – the house would seem so empty without him. But then some friends – another vicarage family – invited me and my son to go and join them. So after Chapel on Christmas day, we drove down to the coast, and while there I helped out with their Church services and activities. Although I shed a few tears for my Dad, being busy, and having different company, helped me not to collapse into sadness.
This Advent reflection was broadcast on BBC Radio 2 "Good Morning Sunday" on December 9th, 2012.
More Blue Christmas on Daily Episcopalian here.