Of pink teacups, loss recovered and Christmas…


I have spent many hours trying to fill up the empty spaces. Sacred spaces violated long ago and a pit deep filled with shadows incessantly howling. And the deficit demanding payment with unhealthy desires eager to fill the void.

Sometimes those of us who have suffered in childhood, usually at the hands of adult child parents who themselves had suffered much, can feel the lack sorely during the season of lights and festivities where jolly making seems to fill others’ lives but not our own.

We wear a smile but feel like Job and sit nursing wounds hidden deep in our hearts.

And put pain to sleep with too much booze or drugs or work or sex or food or the need to make everything Christmastime perfect.

Substances as substitutes ease the discomfort momentarily but do nothing to move our lives forward or make better the lives of those who watch and wait and love us no matter what.

Depriving the world of the gift that we are and so many losing when we won’t share our light.

But as children vulnerable, scared and defenseless, our needs went unmet and we learned to hide in the darkness, coping the best we could and giving into our cries with some secret pleasure or habit when no one else heard us.

And our bodies grew big but our hearts stayed small and our stockings at the chimney remained empty.

We chose to spoil ourselves by indulging, and to recompense our poverty and our pain in ways as varied as ruthless striving for the corner office to pricking our veins with mind altering poison.

But we never found what we were seeking so we continued searching.

Maybe the next hit or the new relationship would finally satisfy our hungry hearts and our lives would change and we would be happy.

My Michael and I searched long and hard, too, with messy tracks left in our wakes and it was only at the funeral of our selfish selves all broken that we found what we were looking for.

And while the finding and the being found has ended our senseless, sinful searching we still love to treasure hunt, but now for fun and sometimes profit.


Last spring with garage sales galore, amidst greasy motorcycle parts and furniture that smelled musty, I found a pink Melmac teacup and saucer just like the one in which my mother made me sugary milk tea when I was very young.

I snatched it up immediately for it held a sweet memory from the rubble of my childhood.


And in the back of an old barn sale up in the country last summer I found utensils that were the same as my grandmother’s when I was six and in their kitchen for Saturday supper and her and my Poppy cooking pot roast, crusted potatoes and kapusta {sauerkraut browned with pork fatback}.

And us eating together.

A few more childhood relics made their way home with me until the thought occurred that perhaps I was trying — in some back of the brain, little girl-heart way — to recover my childhood lost.

But we can never retrieve a childhood lost. And seeking pleasure and relief from our pain in unhealthy ways only brings more unhappiness.

We must let go, letting God fill in all the cracks in our hearts.


And yesterday on the eve of Christmas Eve it was all drippy and gray outside and I hadn’t slept well in several nights following my Michael’s successful but very painful sinus surgery and I am battling melancholy regardless of mistletoe.

Our tree twinkles bright and cheery but I sit at my computer with fingers cold and feeling tired and memories mingle so I ask the Author of my story what He would have me write. He gently reminds that I am tired and need to think on things lovely, but says that in the sadness of my story others can be helped.

And He brings me back to this snowy day before Christmas long ago and us taking the bus to visit my aunt who had recently escaped my father’s very abusive brother. She had gotten herself and her children safe in a new apartment on the west side of the city.

Covered in snowflakes we came in out of the cold and all I remember was how pretty her tree looked — and so very perfect with ornaments and lights carefully placed — and a beautiful beige carpet all clean and new.

We took off our shoes.

And it felt like I was standing somewhere holy. And maybe it was for there was a peace in that tiny apartment that I didn’t feel at my home where too much beer lead to nightly brawling and my heart always balling and me wanting to curl into a ball and hide.

When we returned home I sought to make our place as perfect as I could. My elementary school girl self got busy cleaning and tidying and trying to put things right in such a way as to help my broken heart feel whole.

Controlling that which was in my meager ability to control in a childhood world all out of control.


But our tree.

It was filled with ornaments made by little fingers and it didn’t look perfect like my aunt’s and there was nothing I could do about that.

Except feel sad.

I wanted our Christmas tree to be perfect because I wanted my life to be perfect.

{Looking back, that tree I once thought of as messy touches my heart tender because my mom thought that handmade ornaments were worthy of display. And that is a good memory tucked inside my heart!}

But the deficit in days gone by demanded payment and the pain would not leave. And the little school girl grew up and graduated into a host of issues and choices bad for many years that have taken longer still to unravel and set straight. Peeling a death grip off the steering wheel of control as I drove myself nearly crazy striving for perfection.

But life is not perfect. Life is messy. And always in the middle of messy is glory like a newborn baby’s cry.

For no matter how hard or how long we work on ourselves we can’t ever fix the hole in our hearts by ourselves.

We can only offer it.

Our brokenness a humble oblation to the One born on Christmas Day.

Decorating our gift with tears and longings true that only the One who left heaven to come live among heathen hurting can transform into something lovely as He makes us more lovely and like Himself.

Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:48


Our best gift ever is the babe in a manger for we all need a savior but how our sins separate.

And in our darkness dreary we cry yet continue running circles until we run out of steam all spent from the long and arduous journey and we come to the end of the line and get off the merry-go-round express going nowhere fast and fall slow into the arms of love that have long been waiting.

And the dirt and the hate and the hurts lacking hope and the sins smothering smiles don’t matter so long as we come.

Come to the stable for that is where stability begins and that is where, in our dark and hurting world, we find hope.


For unto you this day in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.

Greatest gift ever, unlike any other, offers forgiveness, taking away of our sins in a blood bath that washed us clean so that we can start fresh.

And any day can be Christmas when you welcome Christ home to your heart.

So stop standing at the door outside begging but never entering in.

Lost. Lonely. Loveless.

And empty.

There is room for you in Christ.

God can and will help you.

So come on bended knee, bowing before our child-God as a little child needy.

Giving up all that you cling to and thinking that in yourself you can make it better when only God can kiss away the boo-boos and call a do over in your life.

And only as we humble our hearts, once haughty and hurting, and give it all up, opening our hands and letting go.

Free falling into the everlasting arms of love.

And Him always catching us…


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4 thoughts on “Of pink teacups, loss recovered and Christmas…

  1. Thank you for your lovely/painful story of beauty found in the ashes, with us here at “Tell Me a Story. I love your illustrations and think back to our plain and simple tree that mother allowed us to decorate with tinsel pieces placed so carefully and a hodge modge collection or ornaments. Even for those of us who were raised in a “semi good” environment, there are still childhood fears, rejection, self pity, loneliness, and even hate of those who seem better than us. OH we are still maturing even at our age as Jesus shines his light into our hearts. May you enjoy a lovely Christmas with your loved ones and the presence of our Lord around you.