Below is a transcript of this radio segment:
This time of the year, I think is -- well, for me at least it's hard. It brings back the memories of the good and the bad. And that's all Christmas is, it's either really, really great or horrible. It's not neutral usually.
This weekend we were at the mall and Cheyenne wanted to see Santa. She's 8. Raphe is 10. Raphe did not want to see Santa in the biggest of ways. He finally gave in. And he even smiled for the picture after mom said, 'please, Raphe, just one more year for mom.' And he did.
As I was standing next to him, behind Santa, and I smiled at him knowingly and he smiled at me, it marked the end of an age. He is no longer my little boy.
Each of the children growing up has hurt in the past. But knowing that there aren't any little ones following behind these last two hurts perhaps even more.
This time of year is always tough. It reminds me of the good times. One memorable Christmas week growing up in Mount Vernon, Washington, my hometown. It was perfect in every way, and maybe only in my memory. I may have been 9. But that year because of all the work that we did, because I started working at the bakery when I was 8, I had my own money to buy gifts. I would walk from school to work. It was maybe four miles. And I would walk to the bakery and I would pass all the stores and this is in the days when Sears was still the big store in town. Sears and Penney's. This is before the mall. Santa would come on the back of a fire truck. We still shop downtown and I had done my gift shopping that year. And that was the year that it snowed. And I remember how quiet everything was. Growing up in Seattle, it doesn't snow very often. And when it does, even just three inches of snow will shut everything down. But this year, I bet we had five on the ground. And I remember walking down our street on Warren Avenue. In the silence, only hearing the breathing and the crunch of my father's footsteps. One of the few good memories around Christmas with my dad.
This time of year reminds me of my "Christmas Sweater," the last gift that I received from my mom. Guess I was 15. If you read the book, you know that gift is the gift that changed the course of my life - for better and for worse.
This time of year reminds me of the Christmas that I couldn't afford any presents for my children.
And the year after where Hannah found a sleigh bell and restored her faith in Santa and magic.
And eight years later, that I filled the Christmas tree almost halfway up with presents around the tree. When I had enough money, I thought, 'I'm going to buy everything I've ever wanted to. I'm going to live my childhood dream of Christmas and I'm going to buy everything that I ever wanted for everybody I know.' And it was the most empty Christmas I'd ever had.
This time of year reminds me how I spent Christmas alone for a few years after my divorce. And now how we split the children for the holiday. And how that has split our family forever.
This time of year can convince you that you're the best parent or the worst parent. But too many times, too many people fall through the cracks and they focus on the worst parent, the worst spouse, or the worst human alive. It can make you feel worthless and hopeless and powerfully alone.
As I jotted down some thoughts last night, I thought how many times I had been there, so deep in despair that I never thought it would end. And how strange it is that in the midst of that despair, death seems welcome and logical.
This time of the year reminds me of the Christmas where I decided to live instead of die. I wish I could tell you that it got better the next day, but it didn't. It took a while. But it didn't just get better. It got great.
I thought of this last night. That night I cried out in prayer. I just wanted somebody to trust me and to believe in me as I had lied to everybody, including myself, for years. No one would have crossed the street to even shake my hand or say hello. I had literally lost everything, including my good name, if I even had had one.
But that night, out of my desperation, I decided with God I can change that. I don't know if I even really believed in God that much, I just know that I was desperate.
Now look at my life. He has so greatly blessed me. Not only do my older children live next door to me, but my two younger children have graced my life as well. I have an amazing wife. And now more friends than I could possibly ever count.
It's strange. We don't know each other, yet I feel we do.
I've said before - how many friends I have on Facebook. 3.2 million. How many friends do really have on Facebook? None. But that's not entirely true.
You have me at a disadvantage. You know me. I don't know you. But I know we're not all that different.
If you are alone, if you are away from your children, if your mired in the muck of regret, if you're broke, with no hope in sight, if you're jobless, perhaps homeless soon, if you're sick, if you're in pain beyond your understanding and description, I know. I've seen some of those views.
But may I ask that you listen to your friend on the radio and make a different choice. Make a choice today to just make it to bed tonight without doing any more damage. Just make it to bed tonight to be able to get up tomorrow, get dressed, and do it again.
There are days especially this time of year that I still feel alone. But the darkness no longer can whisper its lies. I'm no longer willing to believe, at least for very long.
The truth is, I'm not alone and you're not alone. Your children, friends, and family would not be better off without you. You will find a job. You will find a friend. You will find a spouse. Your life does have meaning. You just may not have found it yet. You do matter. You impact people you meet. You make a difference. God does exist. God sees you, God hears you, and He cares. You were born for times such as this. Reach out to Him and then reach out to someone else, a friend, a loved one.
If things are really dark, a helpline. There's somebody there because you aren't alone.
Last night as I jot these things down, I thought, I don't even know who I'm writing this for. But I was compelled to write it.
But you are listening. So perhaps this message was meant for you.