It’s Christmas! As my poor, suffering wife will attest, I love Christmas. I like strolling through the Christmas decorations as soon as they start appearing (in June or July, at some stores). I listen to Christmas music any time of year. (Not a lot, mind you; I reserve most of it for the Thanksgiving – New Year period. But I love it.)
With all the hullabaloo and craziness often associated with the Christmas season (we got trapped in some nasty traffic yesterday, trying to run errands), it’s easy to become stressed, worn down, and, well, downright crabby.
It’s also useful to remember that, for some people, Christmas isn’t a glad time of great joy. It’s depressing. Maybe their first spouse decided Christmas was a good time to announce a desire to divorce. (That happened to me.) Maybe they lost a loved one on or near Christmas. Maybe they’re estranged from their children, and Christmas just brings up that loss.
With all the media attention focused on how happy you’re supposed to be at Christmas, it can wind up feeling like you’re the Lone Stranger – the only person who doesn’t really feel so merry. That’s why the Christmas season is often marked by an uptick in suicide rates.
But let’s consider, for a moment, why we celebrate Christmas. It’s the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the world. That was the “good tidings of great joy” announced by the angel. Heaven had provided a Savior. If you’re feeling down or crabby, consider: If the world didn’t need saving, why would He have been born in the first place? If everything were just great, then what’s the point?
He came precisely because the world wasn’t perfect. It was – and is – broken. It’s full of loss, and sickness, and pain. So if you’re someone, or you know someone, who’s hurting because it’s Christmas, then you have reason to hope. Not because the Hallmark Channel splashes the airwaves with images of fairy tale stories. Not because the lights are beautiful, or because people are more generous around Christmas. He didn’t come for that. He came “to bring life, and life more abundantly”.
So it’s okay if you’re not jolly and merry just because it’s Christmas. It’s okay if you hate the crowds. It’s okay if you get sick of hearing, “Merry Christmas” when you don’t feel merry at all. Because crowds, shopping, Santa, Frosty, Rudolph, roasting chestnuts, family gatherings, decorations, greeting cards, mistletoe, and all the other trappings of the holiday aren’t the point. They’re symptoms. These things are just the overflow of the joy that results from a Savior descending into a broken, desperate world. He’s the source. It’s from Him that we can feel the joy. The other stuff will follow.