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The Empty Stocking

Nothing can prepare you for all the firsts after a loss. 

The first birthday.

The first anniversary. 

The first Christmas. 

In preparation for the holiday season, I purposefully have planned things to keep us busy.  Things to help us make some happy memories too. 

Since Alli was born, I have done the bulk of the Christmas shopping.  Joe and I would discuss the items we wanted to get for each kid, but I would always take it upon myself to go out and actually execute completing the list. 

Joe loved Christmas.  It was his most favorite holiday. 

He had a knack for remembering the smallest of details of things the kids wanted, or that he thought they would love.  For a man who (self admittedly) struggled with details on a lot of things, he never struggled with it for gift giving. 

He had the biggest heart and loved showing others how much he loved them through gifts.  It was his love language. 

The weekend before Christmas we would find time, just the two of us, to wrap up the shopping.  I so looked forward to those days. 

We would start early.

Grab breakfast and plan the day, then we’d hit the stores. 

Coffee, and a leisurely day – just the two of us.

I didn’t realize how much I loved this until this year.

Last Sunday I went to work on the Christmas lists.  While I also love Christmas, I have been struggling to just get it all done.  Perhaps I am overcommitted, or perhaps it’s just the weight of it all. 

I made it into a couple of stores, and then had to leave.  It just wasn’t the same.

My sweet Sara, in all her loving ways offered to help me.  I don’t know if she realized just how much I was struggling, or how much I needed this time – but it was absolutely wonderful.  I was able to go through each list with her – minus hers of course – and she helped me execute the plan to get it all finished. 

So, as I have every year, I sit here in the early mornings with a cup of coffee, wrapping each gift. 

Stuffing the stockings, and I realized we have one that is empty. 

The one with a big ‘J’ on the front of it.

We debated even hanging Joe’s stocking this year. 

But we did.

…and there it hangs, empty. 

When I look at our other stockings though, and the gifts around the tree, I see just how blessed we are. 

This Christmas, even though we have a huge hole in our hearts, we are so very blessed. 

We have a warm home with food on the table.

We have wonderful friends who have loved and supported us this year.

We have a church home.

We have the ability to give back to others – just as Joe would have wanted, which we did in a special donation to our church and pajamas to a local charity.

We have the love of Jesus in our hearts, and a very special angel watching down on us.

If you don’t have a empty stocking hanging from your mantle, be thankful.

…and if you do, consider yourself blessed that you had someone so special in your life that you would continue to hang a stocking for.

I found this poem and it wraps up my thought so beautifully.

The Empty Stocking

Poem by The Reverend Beverly White

(c) December 10, 2021

There’s an empty stocking hanging by the fireplace this year;
no candy, no nuts, no gift.
There’s an empty feeling in my heart.
This year without you here, my dear…

You brought so much laughter.
You gave us so much love.
What do we do now,
that you’re gone up above?

This Christmas, we will not leave your stocking empty.
Even though you are not here,
we’ll fill your stocking with
precious memories of you.

We will laugh, and we may even shed a tear.
But we will never leave your stocking empty;
we will never not say your name.

We will never forget the love you gave,
even though Christmas will never be the same.
We’ll have our usual Christmas dinner, turkey, dressing, and ham.
But you get to sit at the table with the Great I Am.

Yes, you’ll get to sit with Jesus.
You will sing with the heavenly choir.
You can be among the host of angels,
which was your heart’s desire.

No, you won’t be with us in person;
that will take some getting used to.
But your stocking will not be empty.
We will fill it with precious memories of you.