The culture around us is preparing us for the “hap-hap-happiest time of the year,” the season of Christmas, also known as the Holiday Season. For many people, Christmas is the best time of the year because it focuses on gift-giving, decorations, parties, heart-warming Christmas stories and songs, and nostalgia of days gone by.
But for many people, Christmas is not the best time of the year. For those who live alone, Christmas can be a depressing reminder of isolation and loss. For those who have broken relationships within their families or friends, Christmas only highlights the difference between the “perfect” family holiday and their personal reality of hurt and brokenness.
Celebrating Christmas when you’re dealing with divorce, cancer or Alzheimer’s disease is a struggle. For many people depression is their holiday companion. And for those who have suffered the loss of loved ones, Christmas can be empty.
When I was twenty years old, my father was killed in a car accident on November 8. Our family was stunned by the suddenness of the news. We walked through the funeral and burial ceremonies in a numb haze. By the time Christmas came, we were still in shock. We gathered as we always had, but that year Dad was not there to hand out the presents to each person in turn as he always had. We had to choose someone to take his place, but it just didn’t seem right. That memory still tinges my Christmas experience.
So if you or someone you know is experiencing a “blue Christmas” this year, it’s a good idea to remember that the meaning of Christmas goes far deeper than piped-in Holiday music and the mad rush of shopping. Christ was born to a poor peasant couple in a humble cattle shed. They weren’t a “perfect” family. The simplicity and humility of Jesus’ birth keeps us grounded in the love of God come to earth.
May Christ find a home in our hearts, however humble they may be, this Christmas.