Never would I have imagined how much losing someone I loved more than life itself would affect everything.

Christmas: it was such a special time of the year for our family. The Christmas tree would be up 3 to 4 weeks before the big day. We counted down the days by having little surprises hidden around the house for the kids to find each day. I would find the prettiest decorations inside and outside the house: a candle in every window, garland around the pillars, red and green pillows on each couch. Stockings complete with each person’s name matched the red and green pillows. Christmas was a magical time, that was until our three-year-old son died.

And now Christmas is very different. I can remember that first Christmas without my little boy so vividly. The excitement by everyone in the world getting ready for Christmas was excruciating to me. I didn’t want to see one decoration anywhere. I was mad at the world for the existence of Christmas. I couldn’t stand the thought of even having a Christmas tree or one decoration in our house, and yet I had two small children at home who kept asking, “How soon until Christmas, Mommy?”

Never would I have imagined how much losing someone I loved more than life itself would affect everything. Before our son died in our perfect little world, I had never thought that this beautiful time of year could also be the saddest time of year for so many families.

Today, our Christmas time has changed immensely. We have found renewed hope and joy through our faith. We now focus on the True Reason for the Season with our kids. Yes, we have brought back a few decorations over the years, but on the center of our mantle is the most precious decoration of all, our porcelain nativity. Instead of many presents for our kids, they receive three, just like our precious Lord received at His birth.

Each year, I make a gift for our son ~ a homemade wreath with some very special words on it. We also take time to think about and pray for all the families that have gone through losing someone they love. We know how difficult each Christmas, every holiday, and most days are for them. The hope of Christ Jesus and thinking of others during Christmas and throughout the year has brought joy back into the Season. We thank God for the greatest gift of all this Season, the gift of His son. For without His son, we would not have the HOPE of seeing our son again.

Christi Tripodi is the co-founder of Cornerstone of Hope.