The holiday season is in full force. I've never had hard holidays before. But they are when you're divorced.
Thankksgiving was my first one without having the kids. I went to my sister's and had time with her kids, who are growing up too fast. So the time there was nice, but traveling distances alone isn't as fun.
And now we're in Advent. Today is St. Nicholas Day. Both events have had many traditions for us in the past. But those have had to change. We're not together at the table every night for lighting the Advent candles and reading a devotional. Money is tighter, so the St. Nicholas gift was absent today (there will be gifts later, though) as was the shoe boxes that we typically deliver for going overseas.
But we still had a good evening of decorating the tree (though I need to get a tree skirt, an extension chord for the lights, and a star for the top). We listened to Christmas music all day long, and we had time together watching Back to the Future III (we had seen the first one this summer in a park with DeLoreans there, so we've been finishing the trilogy). Tomorrow we're going to partake of a family meal after church followed by gingerbread house making and other activities. There are new memories to make, new traditions to try out.
But it's not the same. There are memories with each ornament on the tree. There are fewer stockings to be hung. There are activities at which I'm alone.
So I go back to gratitude. Gratitude recenters me. It changes my attitude.
And I can be thankful of the hope of Advent. The hope of the returning Christ. Hope of change. Hope of better things. Hope of love, and grace, and mercy, and forgiveness.
That's why I need Advent. As much as I love Christmas, I can't rush to it. I need the reminder of the goodness of waiting in hope. For that I am thankful.