There are times when the holiday season doesn’t feel entirely too special. Maybe it’s that you’ve been so busy with work your brain forgets to relax, or maybe the loss of a loved one makes celebrating feel like an impossible task. Every year, many people fall into this mindset, and it’s hard to break out of, but somehow, we celebrate.

Last Christmas was the first without my brother-in-law, Rob. We lost him too young and we’re all still wondering how somebody so good could be taken so soon. He was my best man in our wedding, and a few months later, he was gone. It was the hardest Christmas to “celebrate” that I’ve ever experienced.

That same Christmas would be the last Christmas celebrated with my grandpa, Graydon. Though he lived a long and meaningful life, Alzheimer’s took the last few years of joy from him. It was hard enough watching the progression of that terrible disease, but knowing that it was likely the last Christmas we had with him was incredibly hard.

I’m sharing my grief simply for the fact of the matter that some of you reading this may also be finding this holiday season seemingly impossible to celebrate. I remember dreading the thought of coming home to find that Rob wouldn’t be there. I stood outside my uncle’s home and looked up to the stars knowing it would be the last Christmas with my grandpa. It all seemed impossible.

Yet, we did celebrate.

Somehow or another, we still found hope in the comfort of one another around the dinner table. We still laughed, and smiled, and exchanged presents like we always did. And when one of us fell to the weight of grief, the rest of us were there to pick each other up. I’m not saying it wasn’t hard – I’m saying it was still a time to celebrate.

The hardest part is before the celebrating. I promise you that. You may think to yourself, “I don’t want to be around anybody. I can’t do it,” but nothing could be further from the truth. When you’re with your friends and family, there are small moments when the grief feels non-existent. That by itself is something to celebrate.

Whether you’re reading this the day before, on Christmas, or were so darned busy that you aren’t reading this until New Year’s Eve, know that there is always something worth celebrating this time of year. It may be hard to find it in the moment, but it really is found in the cliché of “little things.” Look closely, be strong, and I’m sure you’ll find reasons to celebrate the holidays in the hardest of times.

Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays,

Matt Anderson

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