The In-Between

November 26, 2023

By Nicole


Yesterday, my “bonus mom” and I went to pick out my Christmas tree. This is an annual thing that I started when I moved into my house. I explained the meaning behind it to her. Growing up, we never had a real tree. To save money, we bought a fake tree that we re-used every year. To me, real trees were something families put up on TV and Hallmark Christmas movies. That could be wrong; maybe there were less fortunate families who bought real trees every year, let them die, and then did it again. But that was the meaning behind buying a real tree to me, nonetheless. Fake trees were for people mindful of spending, people with a survival mentality. So, when I started getting a real tree, it symbolized financial freedom. It symbolized middle-class status. I had made it!

I know the Father meets me with the best tree every year because of what it represents to me. The hardship of not having my parents physically is something near to His heart, so He gives me things like that to let me know: He sees me.

He gives me people like my bonus mom to do that, too.

She is someone who slid into the gap when my mother transitioned. Though she had always been “around,” she now became vital. The need for family and loved ones is a vital need for us all. My life is a beautiful example of how others step in when others transition out. 

It is God’s way of showing me, “Nicole, you’re not alone.” 

John 14:18: I will not leave you as orphans.”

Even still, the holidays are hard. I long for the day they will not be hard, but finally understand, this is my cup. 

Getting my tree was a seamless process. In fact, there was no crowd and not even a flake of snow insight, which is a rarity for Cleveland. I can’t remember the last time we didn’t have snow on Thanksgiving, or it wasn’t at max, 30 degrees outside. Yesterday was 40s and snowless. It may as well have been 80s and sunny as far as I was concerned.

My bonus mom and I got our Starbucks and our tree. We spent the evening eating a candlelit dinner in my home with Christmas lo-fi jazz in the background. I couldn’t remember the last time we had done this, and I was super grateful for the “rabbit” food I just happened to have that she loves to eat, a.k.a. salad. We both love hearty salads. I also had some leftover wine from Cooper’s Hawk from lunch with a friend the other day. It was the perfect compliment.

After putting up the tree, we settled in for “story time.” I developed story time with a couple of friends who have become go-to beta readers for books I’m working on. I’ll let you in on a secret. I’m working on my second novel (smile).

We spent hours last night, me reading, her listening, enthralled. It was perfect.

These are the moments that God shows up for me. In the midst of navigating loneliness and loss, there are those who show up. 

I only hope that one day, they won’t need to. That one day, there won’t be a need. 

My first Christmas in my new home…

This space in my life is the in-between time. It’s like when you have an appointment scheduled, and you know they’re going to call your name; you just don’t know when. You’ve gotten the assurance you’re on the list. You’ve heard from the Maker of said list. He verified your name and triple-checked it every time you asked about it. So, you know you’re listed; you just don’t know how far down. And so, you wait.

Months ago, I had such assurance, such faith that I was on the list. That my name was just about to be called. For the first time in a long time I was overflowing with hope. But then, the familiar waiting set in, and with it, the reality. I wondered, maybe I am not on the list? But more realistically, it was that I am on the list, but I’m still not up. I am waiting. And with me are the people in my life showing up for me. The people like my bonus mom.

They are waiting with me.

A sneak peack of my xmas tree…








Are the holidays hard for you, too? Join me and my crew as we dialogue on “Dealing with Grief at the Holidays” during our next Girl Talk. This is our very first in-person Girl Talk, and for that reason alone, it is bound to be a good time! Come share during the Q&A and receive helpful tips and much-needed resources from our expert panelists. Oh, and make sure you grab a friend and bring them too!

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