There I sat, offside and away from their cheer. Amidst the sheer joy, I caught my breath in a moment of grieving and celebration. My heart over flowing with a gratitude I was unable to put into words, I watched in awe at the sight before me. There in my midst was the warmth of a fire glowing, the trimmings of our tree gleaming and the pajama bottoms of my three precious gifts cheering on their dad, my loving husband as he opened his anniversary addition of Calvin and Hobbes from camo printed wrapping paper.

In my moment of overwhelm I excused myself for the excuse of coffee needing to be poured. In my brief reprieve I found my chest tight. For just that moment I allowed a tear to stream down my cheek. I allowed the conflicting feelings of grieving the loss of childhood memories I was never given to be covered and washed away by all that I have now.

Time is not what heals all wounds, it is in the wading through the deep and embracing the journey to your perspective shift.

I am still quite new to the wonder that can be Christmas. I was twenty seven years old the first time I received a stocking and experienced legitimate joy from unwrapping a toothbrush, candy, socks and all things in between. I remember feeling like I was dreaming as I walked through that entire day with only happiness in my heart.

I had grown to hate Christmas and all the disappointments that were inevitable to befall the day. I resented how the movies portrayed the whimsy of falling snow on a romance that I did not have. I despised the image of all things merry and bright. Christmas, for me had come to be that time of year where the glaring brokenness of my family could not be ignored. Christmas meant making up stories about the gifts I never received to my friends as they gleefully showed me theirs. Christmas was about angry hisses and hidden sobs behind closed doors. Christmas came to be the marker of all that never was and I had long since given up hope on over being.

And then, on a Christmas eve 8 years ago, a man with blue eyes like the sky got down on one knee and asked me to be his forever and always. His profession of love in this way on that day was the beginning of a long road of healing on a heart left cold at Christmas.

My heart weighs heavy still every year that we approach Christmas. With a lifetime of trauma and drama through the holiday season, I only ever assumed perfection was on the other side of the door. I feel that we here in North America have been manipulated into what is required for a successful Christmas. Our trees adorned with symmetry and sparkle. Our gift lists long and wrapped with precision. Our tables adorned with swelling birds and tart berries. Aromas wafting from steaming hot mugs of cider and cocoa, it all feels so unattainable. What I am realizing now is that it just isn’t necessary.

I had spent my lifetime comparing what wasn’t with what I thought should be. I wanted desperately to trade my broken and bleeding heart at Christmas for that magic sparkle that comes with all things Merry and Bright.
I have since learned that it wasn’t the magic of Christmas that I was missing out on, but the understanding of the cause for joy through this holiday season. As we close in on this, the most anticipated holiday of the year, I want to reach out to the bleeding and broken, the bruised ego and empty bank account in this small way that I can.

So please, listen here carefully to me now.

The magic of this holiday is manipulated into our minds with beautiful sights and sounds and wafts of sweet perfection. But the joy you seek, that can fill your whole heart was birthed into this world as the Christmas gift the whole world can experience, away in His manger.

If I may be so bold as to proclaim my Christmas wish, it is to dispel the orchestrated Christmas whimsy with that of a joy so deep and wide that those that are whole with their cups running over will mend the broken and pour that love out and on to those just waiting for their magic on the other side of the door.

Be encouraged!

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Amy Bruinsma

Hello! My name is Amy and I am The Optimistic Mama! I am a stay at home mom married to the love of my life, doing the best I know how to be to our three little people. My hope is to grow them into difference makers, each their own beacon of light. I live in rural Southern Ontario where I enjoy (extremely) early mornings with my wee ones leading to full coffee mugs and beautiful sunrises, walks amongst the trees, small hands in mine, adventures in stick and pebble collection and anything in between. The intention behind The Optimistic Mama is to be voice of encouragement in a perpetually exhausting season of life. My hope to all who read my words is a simple one; be encouraged!

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