The good thing about Christmas though is that it comes whether we are ready or not. We all need Christ in our lives, even if we don't know it or haven't prepared for Him, and perhaps He comes more for those who are unprepared than anyone else. That's not to say that we shouldn't ready our hearts and our lives for His return, because that's definitely part of what Advent is about. But if you never got around to lighting the Advent candles even once (but I got them out! That counts for something, right?) because you're busy serving His kingdom in other ways (*ahem* nursing and changing the diapers of one of the precious children He loves so much), Christmas and it's joy are still coming for you just the same, as long as you allow yourself to see that joy despite the earthly imperfections of the celebration.
Last year, I felt equally unprepared for Christmas, though for much different reasons. I'd just had my fourth consecutive miscarriage less than a week before. I was feeling sick and tired and heartbroken. But Christmas came anyway and there was joy in it even though I didn't feel it at the time. Mostly I felt the pain and heartache of my losses, the absence of the babies would who be celebrating their first Christmas and the babies who would have been still in my womb.
Even though I get to celebrate a special little son's first Christmas this year, I still keenly feel the absence of the two others who would be celebrating their first Christmas and the two who would be celebrating their second. I miss them. It's much easier to feel the joy, but the heartache is still there too. This is what "bittersweet" feels like.
Anyway, what a difference a year makes. Last year, I shared on the blog the Christmas newsletter I didn't send because we had no good news to share. This year we did send a Christmas letter because we had lots of good news to share. (And we received more cards than ever, starting very early in the Christmas season! It was a good year all around!) I didn't write everything I wanted to write. I wanted to share that we'd made it through two more due dates. I wanted to sign the names of all our children on the card. But I didn't. Because not everyone we send cards to knows about our losses and, for some, I'd like to keep it that way. And because there is a part of me that want to be "normal" again, that wants to pretend like those losses never happen and know what it's like to just send out a Christmas letter with only happy things to share. Of course, we can never go back to what it was like before our losses and I think they've changed us is both negative and positive ways, but sometimes it's nice to purposely forget for a while.
Without further ado, here is our Christmas letter 2015 (with just a few edits from the version we sent out to maintain some privacy):
Dear family and friends,
2015 was a big year for us! In June, we moved back to Colorado. We greatly miss the friends we left in North Carolina, especially our communities at our parish and David’s school, but are grateful to be back near family.
David found a job as a Field Application Scientist at a small company in the area. He is enjoying the opportunity to be back in the lab and his new job requires him to travel.
Our son, David Newton Richards, Jr., was born on November 11. He made quite the (quick) entrance and was delivered by his daddy in the car! Despite the circumstances, both baby and mama were perfectly healthy. Little Davey was baptized on November 22 in the same parish where Lucia was baptized and we were married. We are delighting in our baby boy. Lulu loves being a big sister and spends the majority of her days kissing and cuddling him.
Lucia turned four on December 5. She’s a very active girl who rarely keeps still! She is interested in learning to write and loves to dance and do crafts. She keeps busy in a ballet/tap class and gymnastics.
We have also gotten involved in activities in our new community. David joined the Knights of Columbus at our parish and Mandi is part of a Catholic moms’ group. We’ve especially enjoyed rejoining our friends in the Catholic couples group we attended here previously.
We are currently under contract to buy our first home! If everything goes well, we’ll be closing at the end of January.
This year, we also welcomed a new niece and attended the wedding of Mandi’s best friend and the Church wedding of David’s cousin. Lulu was a flower girl twice!
It has been a year of great blessings for us and we hope it has been the same for you and your family. We pray that God bless you this holiday season and in the new year to come!
David, Mandi, Lucia, and Davey
Photo by Dandy Little Lens Photography