– Judi Formsbee


It was the Christmas of 2009, and I was without my husband, Rick. He died suddenly of a heart attack in June of that year. We had thirty-eight Christmases together. It was the hardest thing for me to go to church and feel the joy everyone else was feeling. I just didn’t have it. I had no excitement for the holiday.

Rick was always Mr. Christmas. He enjoyed the holiday; from the manger scene and church services to the cookies, gifts, and especially family time. This year was painfully different.

Every year we attended a Christmas Eve late service. This year, I attended church in Virginia with relatives. It was a beautiful church.

The first thing I laid my eyes on was a handcrafted cradle with baby Jesus lying inside. Before the church service started, there were well-known Christmas carols being played. Christmas ties, sweaters with Christmas scenes, velvet, ribbons, and even fur were the norm for the day.

The church was decorated with beautiful greens and vibrant red berries. The smell of the greens reminded me of the times when Rick and I took walks in the forest. When I read that poinsettias were given in Rick’s name, the tears I was trying to hold in fell from my eyes like melting icicles. (Image via Pixabay)

It was a great holiday service, but I was just going through the motions. It was a befitting way to honor the birth of Jesus, but my heart just wasn’t in it. The lump in my stomach just wouldn’t allow excitement or joy.

Close to the end of the service, handheld unlit candles were distributed to everyone in the congregation. Each candle had a paper protector around the middle like a skirt.

As I received my candle, I grabbed it firmly in my hand. This was a very solemn part of the service. As I waited for my candle to be lit, all of a sudden the candle flew out of my hand, as if someone had hit my elbow or hand. It sailed through the air and landed in the pew in front of us. My family and I had no choice but to give a hearty belly laugh.  I am sure we disturbed others around us during this quiet time. Luckily it did not hit anyone, and it was not lit.

After the candle incident, I was sure God had sent an angel to hit my arm. Rick believed in laughter and great family times. Rick was letting me know that he knew it wasn’t the same, but laughter helps when you hurt.

I was reminded that night that life is for the living. We will never forget our loved ones, but that night was a wakeup call for me to live, laugh, and love . . . again.

O Lord, thank you for giving us loved ones to share our lives. Help us realize that life is too short and we must live each day for you. Thank you for allowing us to laugh during tough times, always being connected to you.


This post was written by Judi Folmsbee.

Judi is the author of Bubba, the Busy Beaver and Preposterous Pebbles.