My Christmas Treasure Chest

Posted on December 15, 2017

There’s a special box under the tree this year… just for you to open. But only when you are ready.

Just a few days ago I awoke with a start and more than a vague feeling of fear. I lay there in the dark of the condo bedroom. I didn’t want to get up. And I didn’t know why. Laying there, I tried to figure out what I was so afraid of and why I felt so confused. 

My husband and I are on vacation in the Paradise of Hawaii for our annual scuba diving trip.  I absolutely love to dive. When I am under the water, all my disabilities instantly disappear. I’m flying ~ weightless and effortlessly in a world so breathtakingly beautiful, it defies an accurate description. It’s 85 degrees outside and even from our bed, I can hear the crashing of the ocean waves just outside the lanai of the condo where we are staying. At home, it is typical Seattle winter weather ~ gray and relentlessly raining, with a kind of raw-edged cold you never get used to.

”So what is my problem?” I thought to myself. Suddenly I remembered it was Christmastime again. As the realization surfaced to the front of my aching head, it immediately sank like a rock to my heart, which ached even more.


For people who have lost a loved one, the holiday season is perhaps the most painful time of the entire year.



The memories of our magical Christmases with both our twin children would break my heart and just make me want to forget about the whole thing. Fight against the flood of memories. Try to build a levee against them surfacing into my consciousness. Struggle with all my might not to think about Joel at all. Better yet ~ completely skip Christmas.

The next evening, Steve and I had a very special dive scheduled. As I said, I love all our underwater adventures. But this is a night dive, entering into the world of the giant Manta Rays. Just after the sun sank gloriously below the horizon, we and the other divers sat in a silent circle on the ocean’s floor holding flashlights to attract the tiny particles of plankton upon which the Mantas feed. And we waited.

When the gentle giants approached, slowly and one by one, the moment suddenly became a holy vigil. These majestic creatures were swimming gracefully ~ dipping and rolling, completely unperturbed by our presence, literally inches away from our bodies.



Speechless with awe, and back on the boat after watching this unearthly ballet for 45 minutes, we pulled off our wetsuits, and as quickly as possible, pulled on warm clothes. I turned to Steve and exclaimed, “I never want to forget this experience as long as I live. I will treasure these memories forever.” He smiled at me in agreement.

It was at that moment I realized the irony of my own words. Why would I want to remember this experience forever, while at the same time, I wanted to forget completely about Heather and Joel’s Christmas morning squeals of delight? Tears began to slide down my face. Steve looked at me and pulled me onto his lap, wrapping his strong arms tightly around me. We sat together like this all the way back to the marina. I closed my eyes and relaxed, sinking against his chest. In the midst of my heart, I felt deeply comforted ~ and suddenly, the arms of my husband around me felt like the arms of Jesus, holding me tight.


And I knew that something had suddenly shifted for me. I knew God had something special for me.

It was my magic Christmas Treasure Chest.


And I knew, this year I was ready to open it.

My memories are my Treasure Chest…the very special present from my loving Heavenly Father, tailor made just for me, a grieving mother at Christmastime. He has a Treasure Chest for all of us. I believe the “poor in spirit” are especially close to the heart of God (Matthew 5:3-4). He understands everything about how it feels to lose a Son to a cruel death. Because He did.

I took my own box from under the tree. This coming February 5th, it will have been 7 years since Joel’s death. I took a deep breath, and with trembling fingers, I opened it.

And inside, there they were. 

They burst forth ~ vivid with color, the wafting fragrance of cinnamon and my special holiday prime rib dinner, and best of all, the sound of squealing delight in the voices of both Heather and Joel. An explosion of my precious memories, lovingly tucked away by my Father in a shining, magical Treasure Chest.



After all these years, my Christmas memories have become the very best-ever gift I will receive as long as I live.


If this Christmastime, you feel sad, lost and lonely ~ if your heart is longing for someone no longer by your side,


There’s a special box under the tree this year. Just for you to open. Open it when you are ready. You will know…



Merry Christmas to all of you… with much love, tricia


everything else seemed to come together... My creativity, my love of helping hurting people, my belief in art as a healing agent and my faith in a God who is filled with love for us all.
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Thank you for visiting my site. If my writing or art connects with you, I’d love to hear from you. I’m also available as an art teacher to students of all ages. In addition, I mentor marginalized students, using art to help them find their unique voice and move toward their full potential.