Jayne stood in her familyís living room surrounded by the sights and smell of the season. It was Christmas day, the stereo poured soothing Christmas music into the room, the lights on the Christmas tree created an incandescent glow, trays of goodies were situated on every ledge in the room, and the fireplace popped and crackled giving off a radiant warmth.
Yet despite it all Jayne felt a cold, dull ache. Just two months earlier at the tender age of seventeen she had stood in a hospital room and watched her motherís life slowly ebb away. Cancer had claimed yet another victim, and this time it was too close to home.
Jayneís family which now consisted of her father and two older brothers had pulled together and struggled through the first two months without her mother. They had managed the hordes of visiting relatives, the sympathetic neighbours, and even the funeral. They had worked together to create a semblance of normalcy.
Yet nothing could make Christmas day the same. Despite the family doing their best to carry on the traditions that were supposed to be comforting, everything felt empty and painful. Jayne longed for the ability to turn the world off, or even to skip the holiday season altogether.
Christmas morning the family had their traditional breakfast of pancakes, but somehow they didnít taste right when her mother hadnít cooked them. They opened presents after breakfast, and this year everyone had been exceptionally generous. But the abundance of gifts did nothing to soothe Jayneís empty heart.
Jayne was however proud of herself that she had made it all the way into Christmas afternoon without breaking down and crying. Although the lack of tears running down her face did not at all mean that there were no tears inside her. The lump sitting in her throat all day had made for an extremely sore throat.
Perhaps the hardest time to maintain her composure was when the family received a gift from a friend. It was a small Christmas tree ornament engraved with her motherís full name and date of birth and death. Jayne knew that some people dew comfort from commemorating a family memberís life like that, but personally she didnít find it comforting at all. Christmas tree ornaments were supposed to be cute and attractive, not tombstone markers. Besides which Christmas would be easier to get through if she just didnít think about her deceased mother at all.
A bout of raucous laughter burst out of the kitchen, and Jayne peered through the French doors that separated the two rooms to see her entire family engrossed in a game of Monopoly. They seemed to be enjoying themselves. Jayne felt a pang of envy, if only she could move on so easily.
She pushed herself out of the leather recliner she was in and crossed the room to take a closer look at the tree. Ornaments she had made with macaroni when she was five, miniature stockings knitted by her Grandma, glass angel given as a gift from her best friend. The tree held many memories for her family. And there right in the middle of all those happy times was that hated ďheadstone ornament.Ē Jayne reached out to touch the cold smooth surface of the metal, and accidentally knocked it off of the tree. It fell face first onto the beige carpet. She stooped over to pick it up and noticed for the first time that it was also engraved on the backside. Allowing it to dangle by itís delicate red ribbon Jayne held it up to the light and read the writing on the back.
ďMerry Christmas to you, now donít shed a tear, Iím spending my Christmas with Jesus this year.Ē
Jayne felt her lower lip begin to tremble and the tears that she had been trying so hard to hold in began to roll freely down her face. She traced the delicate engraving with her fingertip, repeating the short poem to herself a few times. Suddenly Christmas didnít seem like such a nuisance anymore. Jayne began to remember how her motherís deep faith had always seen her through her battle with cancer. A faith that wouldnít have been possible if Christmas had not happened. A faith that had undoubtedly seen her mother through the pearly gates, and a faith that would also get Jayne through this difficult day.
Carefully she hung the shiny ornament back on the tree, marvelling at how she could go from hating something to loving in so short a time. She returned to her leather recliner and used a tissue to dry the tears from her face. Another round of laughter sounded from the kitchen, and the real reason for Christmas dawned on Jayne. Christmas was not about gifts, food and games. It was not even about friends and family, Christmas was and still is about Jesus being wiling to pay the ultimate price so that one day they could all spend the holidays with him.
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