When someone you love can't be home for Christmas

A Christian Science perspective.

There wasn’t anything unusual about that holiday; our family was growing and our dinner celebrations were expanding right along with them, often including new friends and family members.

But that year, our youngest daughter, who had moved to the West Coast after college, wouldn’t be there. She was so far away, and we felt we were losing the closeness we had enjoyed when she was a child.

As a parent, I’d already experienced times when one or more children were either unable to get home from college because of winter storms or because they’d been invited somewhere by friends. During those times, I’d found that by turning to God I would find comfort. This time was no different, and I looked for a quiet corner in the house where I could gather my thoughts and ask God for peace through this holiday.

By turning to God, the true head of our family, I expect the peace and comfort I need no matter what the situation. Giving gratitude is one way to open the door for His blessings, wherever we are. Whether sharing a holiday meal with family and friends or not, we are always in the presence of divine Love, who is not only preparing our table but theirs as well.

The Bible promises, "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over" (Ps. 23:5). Referring to the name and nature of God as Love, Mary Baker Eddy, the author of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," once interpreted this verse as, "[LOVE] prepareth a table before me in the presence of mine enemies" (p. 578). Introducing the word "Love" into this familiar Bible text brings out both the name and nature of God as Love. In this instance, for me the enemies were fear, doubt, loneliness, and grief. I found it comforting to know that just as Love was preparing our table, He was preparing our daughter’s. Trusting this enabled me to enjoy the peace I needed, leaving me with a deep appreciation for all God was doing – not just what He was doing for me. With this assurance, I knew that wherever our daughter would be during the holidays, God was meeting her needs just as lovingly as He was meeting ours.

My gratitude began by giving thanks to God for all the ways in which our family had already been blessed. Instead of focusing on myself, I included everyone in my prayer – with the emphasis on God’s love for all humanity. Understanding the presence and power of divine Love to meet the needs of others allowed me to realize it clearly in my own life. God had certainly brought the fullness of His joy and abundance into our home, and with this same love, the same Father supplies His goodness to all of us. My gratitude shifted from myself to others, and I was thankful for the joy and abundance of His presence in every home.

These gentle thoughts gathered momentum in my heart, embracing the households up and down our street, and all around us. Simply put, my own need for comfort was met by my being happy for others. "The rich in spirit help the poor in one grand brotherhood, all having the same Principle, or Father; and blessed is that man who seeth his brother’s need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another’s good" (Science and Health, p. 518).

This prayer wasn’t asking God for our daughter to come home, but rather was a spiritual exploration of my desire to see that kind of joy touching everyone. It was transforming a feeling of lack into a feast of thanks – of gratitude that people everywhere would be touched by God’s love right then, right where they were, just as I was. The comfort I was seeking was found in caring for everyone else’s joy and abundance. What began as a simple desire to find my own peace became a desire to bless everyone. And this continues to bring new views of holidays into our home from year to year.

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