The Season

These are the best hours of the whole year. Not the chaos and hoopla and clatter of joyful children that come with dawn’s first light- while those are wonderful too- what I love most is the soft, pregnant richness of Christmas Eve.

The babies are settled into their beds, tucked in for the tenth time already, their eyes sparkling with anticipation and their teeth chattering with excitement. Sleep won’t come quick for them- but then, neither will it for parents tonight. The house settles down, the old timbers creek and familiar sounds come to rest for the night.

Tomorrow, we will have tired eyes as we follow the bounding bundles of childhood down our curving staircase to see what surprises await- and that is its own type of joy. But for now, I relish the quiet. I relish the solitude, when I can take a few moments and think of what a blessing my life is, how richly the Lord has shed his light in my life, and how profoundly grateful I am for this ultimate gift- finding faith and knowing Jesus Christ.

Three years ago today I wrote the above. Christmas has always been my favorite time of year, my favorite holiday, without reservation. Yet, for the first time in my life, I just want Christmas to be over. Last year, still in shock from the new devastation of being in the middle of a divorce, my children and I were carried, quite heavily, on the prayers and love of others. I think the shock and generosity of others cushioned us from a great deal of the pain that was just under the surface. But like all good things, it cannot last forever, and this year, Christmas feels like bone rubbing bone. There is no escape from the fact that our little family is ravaged and scarred. We don’t fit the Normal Rockwell or Currier and Ives- or even Mormon- ideal anymore. And its impossible to hide or gloss over that fact at Christmas.

But so what? None of that matters- and maybe that’s the point. Even amid the grief and loss that springs fresh in the most unlikely places, I am aware of grace. What I can do as the sole functioning parent to three souls will fall far short of what’s needed, yet we will be carried anyway. I am aware, even at my worst, my lowest and least lovable, that God loves me anyway, and this stops me in awe. Perhaps in rushing to get through the pain and have Christmas just be over, I am missing an important lesson. Perhaps walking through and allowing the seasons of life- all of them- to unfold over us is part of carving and honing of the vessel that can eventually hold light.

Tonight, I think of Mary- lying in an unfamiliar place, a single unwed mother, not having the life she may have imagined for herself and facing the abyss as she gave birth to the son of God. We grasp so little of the eternities through the lens of our human eyes, but one lesson I have learned through the immolation of the life I imagined is that erring on the side of love and faith will never lead us astray.


  1. Merry Christmas, Tracy.

  2. I love you Tracy.

  3. John Fueston says:

    Tracy–Amen. And thank you, more than you know.

  4. Merry Christmas!

  5. I’m thinking of you and your family tonight. Thank you for your thoughts; they’ve made my own Christmas Eve blessed and complete.

  6. Bless you, dear.

  7. Kevin Barney says:

    Enjoy the day, Tracy!

  8. “Tonight, I think of Mary – lying in an unfamiliar place, a single unwed mother, not having the life she may have imagined for herself and facing the abyss as she gave birth to the son of God.”

    Beautiful, Tracy.

    Truly we all should be aware of grace and how much He loves us as we are – not just as we want to be.

  9. Last night in the quiet after my children were asleep, I was remembering the Christmases after my parents’ divorce. The first one was painful. But I have fond memories of another one a year or two later when my mom sewed me a nightgown and gave me a Christmas ornament. I think those were my only gifts. But they are also the only ones I remember from my teen years. I got a sense of my mom’s love and sacrifice from those gifts. Don’t underestimate what you can give your children, Tracy. Of all the things my mom has given me, the thing I am most grateful for is her faith. I honestly don’t know if my faith would remain if I experienced the things she experienced, but her faith quietly burned through it all and is a great gift to her children.

    Merry Christmas, Tracy.

  10. The was so poignantly and beautifully expressed though the pain you’ve been though. Tracy, you are a treasure. Mary Christmas, thank you for making mine better.

  11. Merry Christmas Tracy. We’re thinking of you and wishing you the best of new years!

  12. Tracy, I have just had the opportunity to read this but it was beautiful. God bless you.

  13. Thank you for sharing your very personal experiences. I would like to share something in return – for the last 15 years, I have waded through trials that broke my heart over and over. Some of these trials are similar to yours, some are uniquely mine. At times, the worst part has been my own fear, pain, and hopelessness. But I kept trying to remember Jesus at all times, and in all things, and in all places.

    And 2010 has been a joyous, miraculous, blessed gift!!!! The empty holes in my heart are filled. The feelings of desperate want have been replaced with abundance. The hopelessness has changed to certainty that God is good, kind, loving, powerful, involved, and all-knowing. This year has been a big drink of delicious water after so many years of aching thirst.

    Well, I wanted to tell you about this, because it does get better!! None of your pain is wasted. Every bit of it will turn into joy. Even the fact that you are not living the “ideal” will become a source of gratitude to God. I don’t understand the miracle, but I sure am thankful for it.

    I am so sad that you are currently in the middle of the pain, but it will end, and you are (soon?) going to experience joy and peace and certainty. God bless.

  14. Observer (f.k.a. Eric. S.) says:

    Thank you for sharing.

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