Christmas is all about togetherness and no one understands that more than the Hallmark Channel. As everyone who is also tracking the Countdown to Christmas with the Hallmark Christmas app knows (please don’t tell anyone), nothing complicated is ever supposed to happen. In a movie that could be called “Christmas, Christmas Back Again,” travelers may accidentally stumble upon the town of Evergreen and be swept up in a holiday romance for the first time after the death of a spouse, but the handsome widow will fall head-over-heels with zero signs of residual trauma or lingering grief. ALL GOOD! Their children are very eager to find a new mom and drink hot chocolate while having a very extended conversation about the next intergenerational Christmas community dance.
As much as I love the Christmas Nostalgia Machine (AND I DO!), we don’t usually get a lot of permission to say the following undeniable truth: the fragility of the people we love makes Christmas layered with a lot of different feelings. Love. Nostalgia. Grief. Worry. Joy. Want of more cookie making (or eating). Especially for caregivers.
Caregivers are those people who are in it for the long haul of loving someone. They can be far away or down the hall, but they are checking in with the doctors or asking if you slept. They are bearing weight in an ecosystem of care that might be super, absurdly heavy. I wanted to devote a little time to thinking about these beautiful people, who might be especially tired around the holidays when the work around the house (and all the Christmas preparations) can really pile up.
On this week’s podcast episode, I get the chance to talk to the superhero of love, Mark Lukach, to ask him more about how he loved his wife after her psychotic break. I have to say—I learned a lot about the double experience of love and exhaustion that caregivers experience. And so much of it is hidden in plain sight. It can be really hard to notice the person beside the one who is the patient or sufferer.
We live in webs of love and obligation and pain and joy. So as we are scribbling out the last Christmas cards and trying to figure out who gets the Christmas cake (UGH! WHY IS IT SO GROSS AND MADE ANNUALLY!), let’s send a little goodness and light to the people who are carrying love on their backs.
God of compassion and love,
we offer you all our suffering and pain.
Give us strength to bear our weakness,
healing even when there is no cure,
peace in the midst of turmoil,
and love to fill the spaces on our lives. Amen.
-from Service of Prayer for Healing, Iona Abbey Worship Book