Christmas + Hard Places

  • You might read this and want to pity because the words below reflect something that took a lot of tears and years of pain, Please do not. I am a child from a hard place. However, I am also a child of a King.  Somedays that hard place still exists BUT Jesus redeems.  I ask that instead of sympathize with people from hard places you stand in solidarity with us and help us process and mourn the hard place but rejoice because this too shall pass.


I love winter. I hate Christmas. I am the missionary that hates Christmas. (Send this one back she’s broken.. Yes, Yes I am and Jesus uses me despite my lack of Christmas cheer.) Let me clear up a few things I don’t hate it because of the biblical holiday I hate it because of the consumer, Santa, family togetherness holiday. I hate(d) that part. Honestly I don’t hate it anymore but there was a time where this missionary hated it with a deep dark passion. It is still pretty painful somedays. I am thankful there has been a lot of redemption.

There is not a Christmas I remember from before I was 17 that wasn’t a traumatic expierence. For families who finances are a constant struggle holidays are usually not holiday baking, sleigh rides and merriment it’s usually a penny to penny budget and lots of tension that sometimes and always in our family’s case turned into a month of screaming matches and (twice as bad if you are living in abuse) for my father the opportunity to once again leave and return in the weeks to come.

Many people may not know this but I in fact came from a hard place.

For me Christmas meant which presents will “Santa” bring and then be returned by “scrooge” (Dad) the day after Christmas. Which will turn into a (me) tantrum and then more screaming matches and abuse. There isn’t a December I remember where Dad didn’t throw and break household items plates, tables, and televisions and then proceed to leave. He would spend hundreds of dollars on God only knows (the same money he was screaming about) and return a week or two later as if we owed apologies. I can’t count the amount of times Christmas cookies ended up being thrown away because he had thrown them all over the kitchen in anger of a $5.50 box of cookie mix. The amount of nights I prayed in December for him to finally leave for good because I swore I couldn’t take it. I couldn’t stay awake one more day in school if he screamed another night til 4 am. I couldn’t take the abuse, the lies and the revolving door one more year. I took it for 17 years. 17 years I waited a few days after thanksgiving for what was the inevitable bomb that went off in our house. When I was 13 they put my already angry abuse dad on steroid to fight an autoimmune disease. So I endured 3 more years of bomb on steroids.

I can’t listen to White Christmas anymore because it was playing as my father threw our computer down the stairs. I told him I wanted a computer game from Santa. From a young age I dreaded December and holiday break. One year I wrote in my diary that I wouldn’t eat until God cancelled holiday break. (I ate a bagel twenty mins later and confessed my lack of commitment to the project.) I regretted that bagel.

* If at this point you are scoffing or blaming my mother for not leaving I can’t tell you the amount of times she tried and he found out or the times I called the police and they told him he just had to make sure I didn’t call them. (Yes Wheaton Police, I struggle with you. I endured years of abuse because “The marks are relatively small and only one person witness and called us. Cover girl waterproof foundation covers well. ) She is the strongest, loving, supportive and most Godly women I know.


When I was 17 and we left him I told myself there would be nothing but happy holidays after.
When I was 18 and 19 I ruined Christmas. I screamed and yelled and told my mom it wasn’t good enough. I was angry that we were still poor and those 17 Christmas’s couldn’t be replaced. When I was 20 I got it together. I had finally healed in some hard places and it was still a really hard holiday and might always be. Now though there is no screaming and no blaming.

So for those who are raising or know a child from a hard place and you want to cry because they have ruined yet another holiday or family gathering hold them close. Dive in deep with them because as a child from a hard place and now a parent with children from hard places we need to mourn and grieve over those horrible holidays filled with everything but happiness. We have to accept the things we cannot change (our past) before we can move forward. I needed to ruin a few and grieve a few before I could enjoy a few.


Holidays and December are still hard. Memories are forever and I still can’t listen to a few holiday songs without running to the bathroom. I am testament that it can get better but December is a month where I need Jesus’s comfort in a different way than most. It is a reminder of the painful 17 years I lived before Jesus entered our household in full capacity. In a month where families are celebrating I have to remember the loss I have endured and rejoice in the healing.


Santa is not celebrated in our house not because we hate him or because of my hard place but because I have older children who spent holidays without Santa and in Rhoda’s words If a big white man came into our house she would hit him with a broom and call our security man. Priscilla was more on why a big white man came to Ghana in the first place wearing so many clothes.


So this year for Christmas following my oh so wise mothers example we will each get one meaningful important gift that reflects a specific budget. We also know how much Jesus has done for our family so we will be donating to a local Chronic Illness Clinic in Kumasi. My children might “ruin” Christmas.. my future children my “ruin” holidays because of their hard place but may we stand alongside and lift them up and grieve with them a let go of our expectations and let the ruining begin for the Grace and love to follow. May we let Jesus intervene and overflow in those moments. I would rather have that then Santa anyway because one is real living and the other is false.


I wish nothing more than my family and friends to with us these holidays but we are together over face time and pictures and that to me is enough this year as we create new traditions and honor some old ones. It’s incredible to incorporate both American and Ghanaian holiday fun this December.


So here’s to beer can chicken, mash potato’s and jollof rice with Shito (I am not cussing.. its spicy sauce with fish) May your holidays be filled with Jesus.


*If you are living with abuse. THERE IS HOPE! You do not have to! Please click here


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