Maybe it’s just me, but this is the first year that I have seen a public wide recognition of just how hard the Christmas season can be.
Hard for grievers who are experiencing their many “firsts” without their loved one.
Hard for the people who aren’t close with their immediate family.
Hard for the people who maybe don’t have an unlimited budget to spend on their kids for Christmas.
Hard for people with anxiety who’s change in routine is detrimental to their mental health.
Whatever your hard may be, I think this may just be the year to step into the season knowing that you are seen, and heard in your pain.
If you know me, then you know I fall under a couple of the above categories when it comes to the Christmas season. I’m not a scrooge by any means, but Christmas is NOT my favorite holiday, and I feel like as I’ve gotten older it’s gotten worse. I don’t thrive in the busyness of the season, I miss loved ones, and feel for my friends who have lost loved ones. It’s a pretty overwhelming season.
However, this year I have been pleasantly surprised with all the empathy and compassion pouring out, not necessarily to me, but to people I know that need it, and here’s what I learned.
Christmas was never supposed to be about all the things that make me or you anxious. Christmas isn’t about the hustle of the holidays, or the frantic shopping, or chaotic social calendar. In fact, Christmas exists because God knew we would feel this way. No matter what the season. Christmas is about Joy, and Hope, and Peace and Love even when it doesn't feel like it. It’s we who have hollowed out the true meaning of Christmas with our (read also: my) lists and expectations.
Do you think Mary thought it was easy traveling across the desert 9 months pregnant? Do you think she had peace or joy when it came to delivering her baby in a stable? There’s no way. But did she feel love and joy when her baby boy was born? Overwhelmingly so.
Because that’s the point, Christmas doesn’t come for those who want the best parties, or gifts. Jesus was born so that when we think that there is no peace or joy left in the world, He’s proof that there is.
Even if you’ve been cast out like Mary was from her family, for conceiving a child before she was married. Even if you feel lost like Joseph trying to navigate how to raise a family when you have nothing. Even if you're confused like the wisemen were when they received the prophecy. Jesus came anyway.
He came in the middle of the worst, in the confusion and the chaos. He was born anyway and that’s why we celebrate Christmas.
As we reflect on the year behind us, it’s been a long haul. I feel it, and most people I talk to feel it too. It’s dark and cold out. It feels like things just can’t get worse, and then another headline pops up on your phone. You’re not sure what the next year will bring, but guess what?
Baby Jesus was born for you, for this reason. To bring Peace, Joy, and Hope, but most importantly Love.
“ I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
How lucky are we that we know how the story ends. Mary and Joseph sure didn’t, but we do. And that my friends is the true Christmas miracle.
Can you believe we are nearing the end of 2021? It feels like I just wrote Read in 2020.
Nevertheless, it's time to review some books! To be honest, most of the books I read this year were winners so I'm not going to bother sorting best to worst, because the differences would be between tenths of a points and as a personal policy, I don't do math. So instead, enjoy this year's list in alphabetical order by title!
To express, explain, and exclaim the lessons life continually throws at me, and my take on how to deal.