I don’t know about you, but each Christmas season I find myself trying to catch the “feeling.”
It seems like every year I hear myself say as December 25th looms around the corner, “It just doesn’t FEEL like Christmas.”
Part of that is living in Florida. I have never felt like I belonged here. I’ve always longed for cooler weather and the changing of seasons. Oh how my heart aches for a “white Christmas” that I fear I’ll never get.
I’ve heard others echo something similar. But it seems like we’ve become obsessed with chasing this evasive feeling that is supposed to come with Christmas. As if there’s something fundamentally wrong with us if we can’t feel it.
Maybe it’s the child inside of us looking for the wonder that once filled our hearts at the mere mention of the holiday. Just trying to get through life can certainly dampen that charm when Christmas becomes more about creating a Currier and Ives experience for your family than it does about the baby in the manger. I’m guilty of that, anyone else?
Or maybe you’re like me and you love Christmas, but the person who taught you to love Christmas is gone now. And no matter what you do, or how you choose to celebrate, it’s never enough because it can’t bring her back.
Christmas was my mom’s favorite season.
Maybe you have that person in your life, someone who goes above and beyond to make it special. The hand-picked presents, the stockings filled with thoughtful trinkets that say, “I thought of you when I saw this.”
I can still see her face as we opened our gifts on Christmas morning. Her big brown eyes aglow, she would clench her hands into fists and bring them to her face to frame a big cheesy grin. She was giddy, her excitement was so contagious, her inner child alive and thriving. I loved that about her.
And now when confronted with this time of year, a part of me grits my teeth and kind of white-knuckles my way through.
Don’t get me wrong, bringing Christmas magic to life for my family is still so special, and I love keeping my mother’s memory alive in keeping with traditions she started when I was young.
It’s kind of unnerving though when a mere song on the radio can sneak up on you and reduce you to a puddle of tears. It gets exhausting avoiding an eventual meltdown.
Christmas stirs the pot of volatile emotions that we stuff into corners and crevices and try not to confront all year long.
I know I’m not alone in this, try listening to the song “Christmas Makes Me Cry” and making it out with dry eyes.
At the risk of sounding a bit like the Grinch mid “Christmas must be something more” revelation, I think we have to dig a little deeper.
As I’m writing this, I’m the only one in the house wide awake at 4 a.m., wrestling with my thoughts. I just chased back to bed an excited little boy who woke in the middle of the night to see what his elf had done.
The house is dark, the gentle glow of the Christmas tree is the only light, but it’s enough. I can’t sleep, so I happened to open up my Bible app and the verse of the day is from John chapter 8: “Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, ‘I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.’”
Whoa. Read that again.
There’s a reason Christmas is called the “Season of Light.”
Then why do I feel like I’m preoccupied with wrestling my darkness all season long?
We can muddy up the meaning of Christmas by cluttering it with our own agenda, pushing past our darkness, and end up just barely getting through. You could do that. Many people do. But you’d be missing out.
After reading that I got to thinking: Maybe other sad humans like me hid twinkly lights all over the season to remind themselves that as things get busy, and it’s easy to lose focus, you don’t have to look very far to be reminded to let the light in.
The true light. The light of the world. Light that illuminates your darkness.
And the darkness, as powerful as it may seem, cannot overcome the light.
So whatever you’re wrestling with this season, whether it be grief, loneliness, sickness, disappointment . . . there is a light that overcomes darkness. And you are anything but alone.
If you look past the parties, the programs, the to-do list a mile long, all the things designed to keep you busy and distracted . . .
Somewhere in your world, there’s a nativity scene.
It may be overlooked, maybe even neglected and dusty. It’s not flashy or twinkly or wrapped in shiny paper. But there’s a little gift for you lying in that manger. And He’s known as the Light of the World. He is the answer as everything in your soul points to the longing for something more.
This Christmas season, let the Light of the World into your darkness.
And as the warmth of His glow washes over you, whatever you’re trying so hard to avoid won’t disappear, but maybe you’ll find it to be that familiar feeling your soul has been searching for.
Merry Christmas, friend.
Signed, a fellow sad heart