I wrote this for the Beaverton Resource Guide:
Seven years ago, during the summer of 2012, we lost our son, Zach, at the age of 25.
For Christmas that year, my wife and I managed to get a Christmas tree. We placed upon it clear tear-shaped ornaments and blue lights. It was a Blue Christmas, a la, Elvis: “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you.” Nonetheless, it was Christmas.
The blue and the tears were good for our souls. I know that other celebrations besides Christmas are celebrated during the holiday season, but perhaps all of our celebrations have a similar orientation around this time of Winter Solstice. At the darkest point, the sun begins its rise.
There is much to be festive about at this time of year: Shopping, parties, gathering with families, glowing candles, children in their pajamas, concerts and light shows and plenty of Santa hats. I love all of it.
Yet, Christmas (and the holiday season as a whole) is most complete when it includes some blue. The light that shines in the darkness is shining for the darkness of grief, loss, and struggle that we all experience. It is the price of being born.
Our tree won’t consist entirely of tear-shaped ornaments and blue lights this year, but there will be a couple of them. They will remind us of Zach and of loss and of the Light of a new dawn that pierces the darkness.
Wherever life finds you this season, may the Light meet you where you need to be met even if it shines through the color blue.
John Shuck is a Presbyterian minister. His website is www.progressivespirit.net