At various stages in our lives, for a variety of reasons, our lives take a huge shift, and we must find a new normal.
Our normal changed December 10, 1985. The day our youngest son, Ryan, age 6, died.
A New Normal
A new normal is something that exists or appears for the first time.
You are unaccustomed to it.
This time of year we want some sort of normal. When it isn’t, our hearts ache for the normal of Christmases past.
After the death of a loved one
To honor Ryan’s life during the Holy Season, we buy a large Christmas-scented candle and place it in a prominent place. It is lit on December 10th, burning nightly until Christmas, when it burns all day.
On December 10, our family chooses to celebrate his life by doing something fun and festive, like putting up the Christmas tree. A Christmas ornament that displays his picture has a prominent spot at the very front top of the Christmas tree along with a few of his treasured ornaments.
Amie is married to a Navy chaplain stationed overseas with their three children. This family is intentional about Christmas, aware that he can be deployed at any time. This year they plan to make cookies together to serve to the sailors at the ship and host some sailors who are far from home for Christmas dinner.
My friend, Susan, was a young widow with two teenage sons when she married our friend, Bryan, a single dad of four. I like her suggestions for blending two families during the holidays:
- Be flexible and plan holiday events well in advance. Planning ahead can help you avoid disappointment. Keep in mind that plans can change at the last minute. While it can be frustrating, fostering hurt feelings and resentment is not an ideal way to spend the holidays.
- Remember that your spouse and your bonus kids *love this* have holiday traditions that are special to them. Be sure some of those are included in your holiday celebrations.
- Establish one new tradition each year (or every other year) that is unique to your blended family. Talk about it together and choose something that has significance for all of you.
Divorced with Children
Elizabeth, a single mom to five, ages 16 to 8, has a new normal Christmas tradition after a difficult divorce:
We started a tradition of writing down special things through the year and putting them in a jar. ….something nice or funny that someone says, or amazing things that happen to us (which is a lot).
On Christmas Eve, we all gather together in our special just-unwrapped Christmas pjs, with mugs of hot cocoa/cider and take turns reading them off. Such a sweet, special time together and it makes our hearts feel like bursting with love for God… it reminds us how absolutely incredible He is!!
We spend so much time in laughter and reminiscing sweet memories. It is a great way to go to sleep, and we spend our time thanking God from whom all blessings flow instead of Santa.
My sister-in-law, Penny, is absolutely gaga over all things Christmas and making memories. (She’s a scrapbook queen.) As her two daughters went off to college and no longer were interested in the craft ideas they relished in their childhood, she searched for a new normal.
The family (now with sons-in-love) embraced the annual tradition of designing and assembling that year’s family Christmas ornament. One year it was the Grinch. This year it was Olaf (from Frozen). The twist is that each ornament has the personal style unique to its creator.
Another family friend selectively shops all year at yard sales for items to be “auctioned” off at the annual Christmas gathering of her children and grandchildren. Each is given a certain amount of play money to bid on items. *I love this idea.*
I hope these examples of families finding their new normal encourages you to find yours. Did you notice the one common thread? FAMILY.
Whatever life-changing event rocked your world, my prayer for you is that you will run to the One who never changes.
This Emmanuel, God with us, promises to never, ever leave you. And He promises He will never, ever forsake you.
He is the only normal you will ever need.
Tidings of comfort and joy,