Our Christmas - Aria MacDonald

Our Christmas

Aria’s story aired on TV One last Sunday. It included updated footage of us back in NZ after her passing. NZ residents can watch HERE

Growing up in a church I have learnt that at Christmas time you pray for the people that have lost loved ones. This year, I understand and appreciate that prayer on a deeper level than ever before.

The lead up to Christmas has been really hard for our family. The whole world seems to sing about how wonderful Christmas time is and how it is the best time of the year. We feel empty and broken and that can’t be fixed with sing song Christmas carols about snow (always weird in summer time!) or excessive amounts of food and presents.

We have felt a real sense of burden for those, ourselves included, whose Christmas time is not the wonderful time we are told it should be. There are many reasons why Christmas time can be tough, lack of money, lack of family, lack of meaningful rest. For some the trials of life simply do not stop because it is the 25th of December.

Personally I felt burdened by the long list of things I felt I needed to accomplish for Christmas day to make it special. Food, presents brought etc etc. I guess for the first time I have had the ‘freedom’ to easily access a supermarket without blizzards or co-ordinating Aria’s hospital care. Yet I did not feel free.

Our Christmas day started in the wee small hours of the morning with me being fairly sick with stomach cramps. I obviously won’t go into details, for your sakes, but it was likely pregnancy/anxiety related. However, thankfully, the idea of cooking and consuming christmas lunch was enough to put me back on the bathroom floor. So Hamish and Asher, who couldn’t care less about the lack of roast lamb, had scrambled eggs for Christmas lunch! Perfect.

As it turned out Asher also couldn’t have cared less about the pile of presents under the Christmas when he woke up. Around 10am he vaguely motioned to one of his stockings which we let him open and then didn’t mention them again until Nana and Poppa arrived in the evening. Again, quite a surprise. Despite it being his birthday less than 3 weeks ago he had managed to compile an impressive list of new presents he wanted. Argh- despite many lectures about how privileged he was and how some people don’t get presents at Christmas time and how Jesus is the real present he didn’t seemed discouraged from his ‘I-wants’

So until about 6pm on Christmas day it was a foodless and presentless day. Asher declared it was the best Christmas ever and Hamish and I felt a huge sense of peace. Oddly the grief of Aria’s missing presence countered by this peace. How everyday must be like Christmas in heaven for her. We never could of provided that for her. Last Christmas she was greatly troubled by breathing issues and the previous one to that she was dying of liver disease. Aria is free from the earthly body that let her down!

We enjoyed Christmas evening with our family. There was food and laughter and yes, presents. But they had been redeemed knowing we could of gone without them and God would of filled us with all we needed.

Our brokenness for Aria’s passing can never be fixed with stuff or things. It can however be healed and soothed by relationship with God and others. We were so thankful to God for His peace and knowledge He too lost a child, willingly for our sake so that we might live in heaven with Him. We were thankful to the people who emailed, text, called and remembered our pain on Christmas Day and before and after. Thank you!

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“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”- Jeremiah 29:11