I've been preparing for Christmas for months now. Why? Because it's the most wonderful time of the year and something about the smell of pine and overplayed Christmas tunes make my weak heart giddy. In October I shut myself in my bedroom for six hours with Christmas music on repeat and made a two metre Christmas garland, disregarding completely the fact that I had a thirty percent test the next day. Christmas time, my friends, is my favourite. But as usual, it's teaching me things about growing up that I didn't plan for or prepare whilst creating lanterns out of tin cans.
I think as you grow older, it becomes clear that the happiest moments often come with a tinge of sadness. Every day I replay singing Justin Bieber's 'Mistletoe' in the back of my year 13 english class with my best friend and how with every conversation we had about this time of year she'd tell me that I needed to drink chai lattes because they taste like Christmas in a cup. Every day I miss her, and the happy moments often come with a bittersweet aftertaste, a longing for what was. There will always be the absence of a laugh that filled my whole heart.
It doesn't make it any less beautiful, and it certainly doesn't change the fact that Christmas lights occasionally prompt happy tears. Missing someone does not detract from the joy, it simply sits beside it and acknowledges them. I'm inclined to believe it's even more beautiful when we realise that even amongst the most broken things, we experience joy. That alongside the imperfections and the struggles of life, we are capable of celebration. There will always be a space for my best friend, and I'm coming to terms with the fact that the best days of my life will be touched by sorrow, but I'm also determined to see what she would've seen and embrace each moment with the fullness of the joy that she carried. It's not about forgetting or pretending, it's quite the opposite. It's about knowing that no matter how much it aches, you can hold tight to memories and feel absolutely broken and absolutely overjoyed at the same time.
So be here, in this season, and be happy about it. Not in a superficial hiding out way, but look back fondly and thank the Lord you're still smiling when you should be. Miss them the best way at Christmas time.