Well, whether I’m ready or not, Christmas is upon us. Just a couple of days away and I haven’t even got my tree up yet! This Christmas season has been a different one for me and I can’t quite put my finger on why that is so. I’ve been busier than I have in seasons past, so maybe that is part of it. In my rush through the things that have to be done, I keep reflecting on Christmases past. The Christmas season is promoted as one of good cheer. People are friendlier to one another, they smile and say “Merry Christmas”. There are parties and shopping and caroling. The churches, towns, and houses are all decorated in the greenery and lights that seem to shout “hey, it’s Christmas!” But because of the intense push for everyone to love one another, get together as a family, embracing the rituals and traditions of the season, it intensifies the feelings of despair, grief or unhappiness that anyone may be facing.
When I was a child, my perception of Christmas was of pure happiness. The family got together, Santa came, we had enough money for toys a tree and all the Christmas bling. After I got married and had my own children, even though it seemed we always struggled financially, we were still able to pull together a nice Christmas and we all got together as a family and there was Santa and all the traditions. But the blessing of living always brings with it inevitable change. Our parents get older, they pass away and the traditions have to change. Each loss leaves a little scar on our previously pristine happy thoughts of Christmas.
I have family and friends who are spending this Christmas grieving the loss of a close loved one. My aunt lost her husband in November and her daughter last week. Other friends of mine lost their daughter at the age of 39 just a little over a month ago. And my heart goes out to them as I cannot fathom the depth of grief that comes from burying your child.
There are those who have lost their jobs or their homes this year. Some are facing a divorce in the family as we move into this “family season”. Some are separated from their loved ones by war. Some are sick, some have been told they have terminal illnesses and some are in constant pain. Knowing these people are having to drag themselves through this frenzy of joy with their pain and heavy hearts makes me wonder if this season doesn’t really make it worse on those who need the most support. Then reflecting a little more I realize that the only reason we feel intense grief is because of the enormous love we have experienced. The pain, the sadness, and the low points in our lives become hard to live with simply because we know there is something else. We’ve experienced better, we have known a life without pain, a life with joy, a life with love.
Outside of the Christmas traditions, the hot chocolate and Santa, beyond the gathering at Grandma’s house and singing carols, God tells us through Jesus that there is something more. God’s promise of eternal life with Him is what keeps us going through our pain and suffering. God showed us through Jesus how to stay strong in your faith through all sorts of betrayal and adversity. When we put aside all the tensile, parties, and lights, and expose what the Christmas spirit really is, it becomes a source of healing, comfort, love and warmth. Jesus may not have actually been born on December 25, but we have used this day to remember that special gift that God sent to us. Here’s hoping you and yours a very Merry Christmas!