Music Monday: A Different Kind of Christmas

All of us miss the loved ones who have left us at all different times throughout the year, but for some reason their loss seems to be felt more deeply at the holidays. This will be my kea-ornamentssecond Christmas without my mother and my sister. It’s been a decade since I lost my last grandparent, and it’s Tom’s fourth holiday season without his mom.

My mother loved all the holidays, particularly Christmas. Even when my mother was alive, I loved unwrapping the ornaments she had handed down to me, many of which I remember hanging on our tree as a child; each with their own story, unique memory, and special meaning. They are all the sweeter to me now.

Last Christmas, hanging these ornaments not only brought the usual memories but also a deep heartache and salty tears which were hiding just beneath the surface, still fresh from the unexpected loss just a few months before. I know now, and I think I knew even then, that this is all part of the process of releasing and accepting life’s transitions… but still, it was painful.

I’m not sure if this year will bring the same painful emotions or simply a warmth and a sweetness as I unpack those treasures. I’ll allow whatever emotions show up and let them simply flow through me without judgement but, maybe because more time has passed, it does feel like a different kind of Christmas this season.

This year, I must learn to step into the role my mother used to play in our family. It’s my turn to add some ornaments as well as my own traditions to all of hers, knowing that at some point in the future the entire lot of it will be handed down to my children’s families like a familial baton passed from one front-runner to the next in the relay race of life. It’s also my turn to demonstrate to my children how grief, loss, and life transitions can be managed, navigated, and even celebrated over time. It will be my turn to create a legacy which will hopefully fill the void for my children when the time comes for another passing of the family baton.

This year, Tom and I will try not to focus on the loss of our loved ones, only the gift of them. We’ll attempt to give our attention not to the empty places they’ve left at our holiday table but rather to all the places that are filled because they helped to create them. We’ll not mourn their absence but open more fully to their presence.

I hope whomever you are missing this holiday season, you will find peace in the song selection for this December’s Music Monday. In his song, A Different Kind of Christmas, Mark Schultz’s lyrics remind us that dealing with loss is a journey… and that we should be very intentional and carefully choose where we place our focus this season, especially if we’ve experienced a loss: “As we gather round the table, I see joy on every face and I realize what’s still alive is the legacy you made.”

We have a choice in our response to everything. Our children and other family members are watching and learning from us and we are healing ourselves every day and one day at a time. When we honor our loved ones with strength, grace, and positivity, we model for our family how to be with others in the future.

Leaders aren’t just for work teams, but also for family teams. And strength isn’t about feeling no emotion or fighting back tears but rather about demonstrating how we can choose to channel the memories of the past into a foundation for the present and a legacy for the future.

Accept the baton well, paint it with your own colors, and carefully prepare it to be passed along with joy. My family is wishing all of you the merriest of holidays filled with love for, and from, all those whom are with you both in body and in spirit.


Mark Schultz – A Different Kind of Christmas

“Snow is falling Christmas Eve
Lights are coming on up and down the street
The sound of carols fills the air
And people rushing home, families everywhere

Putting candles in the windows
Lights upon the tree
But there’s no laughter in this house
Not like there used to be
There’s just a million little memories
That remind me you’re not here
It’s just a different kind of Christmas this year

In the evening fires glow
Dancing underneath the mistletoe
A letter left from Santa Claus
Won’t be the same this year in this house because

There’s one less place set at the table
One less gift under the tree
And a brand new way to take their place inside of me
I’m unwrapping all these memories
Fighting back the tears
It’s just a different kind of Christmas this year

There’s voices in the driveway
Families right outside the door
And we’ll try to make this Christmas like the ones we’ve had before
As we gather round the table, I see joy on every face
And I realize what’s still alive is the legacy you made

It’s time to put the candles in the windows, the lights upon the tree
It’s time to fill this house with laughter like it used to be
Just because you’re up in heaven, doesn’t mean you’re not near
It’s just a different kind of Christmas
It’s just a different kind of Christmas this year”


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