I was throwing myself a holiday pity party. No decorations needed. No one else was invited—I don’t believe in “misery loves company.” Just chocolate and a box of tissues.

This will be the second Christmas without my mom. I am so thankful that she can celebrate Christ’s birthday with Him face-to-face, but oh, how I miss her! My mom made the holidays so magical for us and for our children. Christmas wouldn’t be complete without playing board games with her, making gingerbread men together, her belly laugh, her amazing hugs, sharing memories as we decorate the Christmas tree …

As I was pouring out my heart (a.k.a. complaining) to God about the injustice of taking my mom “too soon,” He began to open my eyes to how Mom was still with us—through my family. Last weekend, my aunt Donna (Mom’s sister) and cousin Elizabeth came for a visit and played games with us, just like Mom did. My 7-year-old son began designing a gingerbread man that Grandma would praise. God blessed my youngest son, who does not share the biological genes, with Mom’s crazy sense of humor and belly laugh. Staring into my daughter’s beautiful blue eyes, the exact color of Mom’s, we shared an amazing hug. Last night I listened to my kids excitedly unpack the ornaments, remembering when they received or made each one. Yes, I still miss Mom. But I am so thankful for the memories and legacy she left behind.

Merry Christmas, Mom. I can’t wait until we can celebrate the birth of the King together again! With each other, and with Him.