For nearly four decades I have been a guest at my in-laws home on December 25th, which is also my husband’s birthday. The first year I was a guest at Christmas we were just sixteen years old. This year, he would have been fifty-two.
The outcome of this year's occasion was nearly as uncertain as that first Christmas was without him.
My mother-in-law, who is stiff competition in the holiday department, even for Santa, had just lost her best friend a week earlier. Her husband, my father-in-law, has been bedridden for the past two weeks from post surgical complications and was too ill to join us at the table as he had always done. Then my brother in law and his family of six had to cancel when their Freshman college student arrived home with Covid.
As we entered another Christmas eve and Christmas day as a family abridged, I observed a kind of grace that was different than years' past. My mother-in-law, who still exerted more effort than we would have wanted given the circumstances, rolled with the changes and we, the remaining three adults and four children, rolled with her.
On the way home, I reflected on the private experience I had that night at the dinner table. There was a moment when my body received a trigger that set off a wave of fear, followed by a deep sadness. I reached for my daughter's hand and was able to bring grace to myself. I said to myself, "Yeah, those feelings make so much sense. And it’s okay, you are safe, you are loved, I am here, you are okay." Once we settled back at home, I poured a cup of tea. The message on the tea tag, “The unknown is where all outcomes are possible, enter it with grace.”
When I am at the gate of uncertainty, as my mother-in-law is, as my father-in-law is, as so many of us are right now, in addition to acceptance, we must also be willing to lovingly let go of the way things were and roll with they way things actually are. Change, like creativity, is a process. And grace is the practice we can bring to our experience which invites us to open to something new.