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When It’s Not the Hap, Happiest Season of All

It’s 8 a.m. and I’m sitting in a donut shop in Galesburg, IL. The animatronic Santa directly behind me occasionally bursts into a tinny rendition of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” then collapses into blissful silence just when I am about to smack him.

My mom just phoned to wish me a happy birthday. It chokes me up that my birthday is the first thing she remembered when she woke up this morning, because she is very ill in the hospital. Today we are waiting on some important test results that should give us a better picture about how far her cancer has spread, and what the immediate future might hold.

Advent is a time of waiting, but this kind of waiting is the worst of all.

I’m sorry I have not been blogging. Because of Mom’s illness I am taking a break from blogging (and a lot of other things) for the rest of December so I can be with her.

Oh, crap. Now Amy Grant is on the radio here at Spud-Os, singing that it’s the most wonderful time of the year. The hap, happiest season of all.

I love Amy Grant, but I am now wearing my noise-canceling headphones because I really can’t stand one more dose of holiday cheer.

But no matter what the news is today or next week or next month, I do know one truth: God is good. All the time.

There is such a thing as joy that transcends circumstance. There is a love that lives beyond all that we know here, all that we do. And sometimes we are lucky enough to be born to a mother who shows that love.

I hope to be back to writing in January, and I wish you all . . . not a merry Christmas, exactly, but a deep joy no matter what your life feels like right now.


The Christmas image is used with permission of

Topics: Faith, Beliefs, Doctrine & Practice
Beliefs: Christian, Christian - Catholic, Christian - Orthodox, Christian - Protestant, Amish & Mennonite, Evangelical, Interfaith, Mormon
Tags: advent waiting, amy grant, christmas, flunking sainthood blog, holiday sadness, jana riess


  1. Hang in there, Jana. We’ll be waiting for you when you get back, and keeping you in our thoughts and prayers until then.

  2. So sorry to hear this, Jana. I hope that transcendent joy and the peace that accompanies it will surround you and your mom. Much love.

  3. Jana, I wish I could give you a big hug and cry with you for awhile.  If you need to kick a Christmas tree or punch the radio when those super cheerful songs come on, go right ahead.  You and your family will be in my prayers, and I’ll be hoping for good news for your mom.  Lots of love smile.

  4. Thinking about you and your mom, and hoping for the best possible news.

  5. Thank you for this. Best wishes!

  6. I wish I could give you a hug.  May you be blessed with the peace that passeth all understanding and strength to endure this trial of your faith.

  7. Jana my heart aches for you.  My prayers are with you

  8. So true . . . the happy music makes the sadness even sadder.  Thinking of you.

  9. Thanks so much, everyone. Your kindness means a great deal to me.

  10. My heart and prayers for you. 

    Thanksgiving week my father was sent to ICU and diagnosed with inoperable advanced cancer.  He has anywhere from a few weeks to maybe a couple months, God willing.  So I am trying to focus more on the meaning of Advent, the hushed anticipation felt by the early Jews that God is soon to be with them. “O come, O come Emmanuel…”

    In this time I pray and remind myself that all is in God’s hands and as it should be and that I must surrender all to Him and trust in Him.  Of course I write this while trying to get myself motivated to decorate the house and take pictures of it to the hospital, reminding myself it is not for me but for my ill father, for my other family members who always love the pretty lights and for myself who will appreciate the beauty of celebrating that glorious day when the Light came into the world as a child. And so that my father may hopefully have peace and rest in Jesus’ arms when it is his time to enter that great sleep.

    It is a hard burden, but the burden is made light for we know we are not carrying this cross alone but are following the one who carried it first for His pain is our pain and His love complete as He leads us closer to His Father Almighty.

    But I agree with the music happy-happy..makes me want to shoot out the loudspeakers in the best of times due the over-saturation, now uuughh!  Get plenty of rest and don’t worry about the blog, folks will be here when you are able and ready to write again. (Punching a radio sounds like fun though! hehe)

  11. Jana, I’m so sorry to hear about your mother.  May she, you, and your entire family enjoy a holiday season filled with love and peace, even in the midst of less-than-ideal circumstances.  Prayers for you.

  12. Jana, thank you for sharing. My thoughts and prayers will be with you and your family.

  13. Hang in there, Jana! Praying for you and your mom. May God’s love and peace surround you!

  14. I am sorry you and your family must go through this and at this time of the year. Good for you stepping back for a time to focus on what matters most or at least to simply endure. Prayers for you all.

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