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Even This Santa Gives Thanks
The hustle and bustle of the holiday season begins. Shopping carts and arms are overflowing with purchases. There is a kind of joy at the beginning of the season – the wonder of Christmas when good cheer reigns; and everyone is wrapped up in joyful preparation. By planning the perfect holiday celebration, we become “Tikulás”. We can thank Santa Claus for the joyful atmosphere, family holidays and the perfect gift.
I once played the role of Santa Claus, just like them. Something’s missing from Santa’s scene today… son. Since our first Christmas without Chad, I’ve never been as enthusiastic about the holiday as I once was. There is an overwhelming sense of pain that hangs over the joy others feel. It drowns out the comfort of music; it takes the fun out of tradition; and dulls many memories that once flashed.
Grief and Ebenezer Scrooge are good bedfellows. I soon realized the the center of our vacation is our loved ones. If one of them is missing, our holidays must change so that we can embrace another life without them. Chad was the special element that put “thanks” in Thanksgiving, “happiness” in birthdays, and “happiness” in Christmas.
Playing Santa in Chad has always been a challenge. Although he had never particularly wanted a gift, he was able to compile a 16-page list without much effort. And he would smile mischievously at his performance. Whatever I did or bought was still a surprise! But there was more to the good times than the presents: the piñatas and Santa visiting as a child; the hidden gifts and other traditions as adults. Santa Claus lived in our hearts from childhood to adulthood.
On the first holiday after his death, my heart ached at the thought of celebrating. I tried all the tips to deal with it, but nothing seemed to work. Early on, I talked to my family about “changing our traditions” – doing things differently. I distinctly remember sitting on the golf course in August and asking my sister for advice on how our family would cope. It’s no wonder that when the holiday arrived, my anxiety peaked. All I wanted to do was get over it!
I didn’t make a very good Santa that year. I wouldn’t have cared if I was shopping. It hurt to watch the children. I found no peace in religious celebrations. I cried through every ornament I hung on the tree. I left the Christmas Eve service because my heart hurt and my eyes were red from crying. And as much as I tried to make things normal for everyone else, I couldn’t find a little peace for myself. I was Santa Claus, with no reason to give thanks.
I was miserable with my choice. I was angry at God for allowing my life to take such a turn. I felt sorry for myself and wanted everyone to feel my pain. I couldn’t deny it. It’s easy to give thanks when life is wonderful. But giving thanks when life faces dark moments is a priceless message of trust. To my surprise, my reaction to the first vacation without Chad was much greater than the actual emotions I felt. Maybe I cried. Maybe I was numb to the festivities others were enjoying.
Although the years have gone by, for a short time each year, the agonizing pain of Christmas past beckons at my door, reminding me of where I was and where I am today. Today I can say with certainty: “Holidays are easier to face, but this is quite different.” In the darkness of this journey through grief, there are some bright lights. The gifts I received were not given by Santa Claus, nor were they bought in a store. Instead, they are blessings that I sometimes take for granted.
- I am happy to know that my God is always with me. No matter what I felt or said in His presence, He understood. And even today, when I have memory lapses and feel sorry for myself, He is there for me. What a friend I have in Jesus!
- I am blessed because I have been able to choose my attitude and my choices have given me new opportunities. I still miss the things that will never be, but I don’t dwell on them anymore.
- I am blessed with family and friends who appreciate my endeavors and support me beyond doubt. It adds value to what I do.
- I am blessed that writing was gifted by God and I found a way to use this gift to ease my pain.|
- I am blessed with a healthy mind, body and spirit, although sometimes I take them for granted.
- Every morning I am blessed with the gift of purpose. I like the quote: “God put me on earth to do certain things. Right now I’m so behind I’ll never die!”
- I am blessed that my journey through grief has given me comfort and peace in the presence of many new friends who share my journey.
That first Christmas after Chad died, I bought a Santa figure on bended knees, head down, arms crossed. It still reminds me of the early years of holiday grief. Perhaps the craftsman’s interpretation wanted to capture the magic of Santa Claus and the wonder of Christmas, which unites two stories for a higher purpose. Or maybe Santa said thank you after his arduous task of delivering packages. Or maybe it was just Santa saying thanks that the holiday is finally over this year!
Life is a gift. For my son Chad, the gift of life was short. But in the short span of 21 years, he has touched and touched the lives of many. It mostly affected mine. His death exposed my weaknesses, but the spirit of his being brought forth the music from my soul. I remind myself that it’s okay to long for the past, but only for the moment. There is a lot to do in the present.
The decorations of the donuts sparkle, which tell the story of many, many beautiful pasts. Ornaments that remind the deceased family. Sparkling angels have silent messages; stars of hope and bells of joy. The sparkle that lingers on my carpet long after the season reminds me that love shines forever in the soul. Our loved ones are not forgotten. They are remembered in silent choruses of beautiful memories.
You have to be grateful for all of this, even Santa Claus can thank you!
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