So allow me to let you in on a little secret about me. I hate Christmas. It is a strong statement, I know, but I struggle every single year.
As a kid, I think I put all of my sights on the one day. One. And I was always disappointed and sad after because it was over. No more to live for or look forward to. Gifts were done.
So it wasn’t actually the gifts, in and of themselves, that were satisfying…maybe that means it wasn’t the gifts I was actually anticipating? I don’t know.
Maybe I was hoping for some resolution? Some feeling of peace? Some feeling of, “Ah, now all is complete.”
Whatever it was, year after year, I was never satisfied. And so I grew to hate Christmas.
Even as a kid, Christmas already brought me a hint of sadness even if it didn’t arrive until Christmas was over.
Now, currently, I hate Christmas because it still doesn’t satisfy…not in the way it advertises.
I’m STILL depressed and hurting – maybe MORE SO because the expectation is that you don’t feel those horrible feelings, especially at this time of year!
But the reality is that peoples’ lives still suck on Christmas day.
People still have cancer, people still feel lonely, people still yell at their kids
and give their husband the silent treatment…
even on that ‘magical’ day.
Hence, why I hate Christmas.
One specific reason why I hate Christmas the most is singing carols in church. In fact, I’m so passionately against them that for a number of years, I’ve held a silent protest for this cause: I don’t sing.
If I’m really on fire, I don’t stand or, if I do, I cross my arms over my chest so everyone can see that I am not in support of what is going on. That’s how mad I get.
I don’t mind you giving me that crap in the mall where everything is superficial but don’t give me that fake stuff in church – don’t give me false joy in church through empty traditions.
Sorry for being ‘bah humbug’. But you can’t say I didn’t warn you – I hate Christmas.
But then today a thought hit me. What is it, God? What is that thought?
Maybe You came for exactly the reason that I hate Christmas.
You came BECAUSE people were still depressed,
bad at parenting at times,
crappy at marriage,
begging ‘why’ because they are sick and dying,
begging ‘why’ because someone they love
got sick and died.
When Jesus came, the world was still in a crappy state. It wasn’t bliss like we expect the Christmas season to be and feel. It was hard and, dare I say, miserable?
So maybe I need to simplify the season. Simplify Christmas – not hate Christmas.
Separate tradition into the ‘fun’ category where you mindlessly go along for the ride. But then I put the sadness into the ‘Christmas’ category.
When Jesus was born, they felt so much relief because they’d been waiting for a Savior, only to always be disappointed because it wasn’t the real deal.
But finally He came, the real deal.
God, I think you came because You couldn’t take it anymore.
You couldn’t take watching from afar and yelling instructions.
Like in the show, Survivor.
There is often a challenge where teammates are blindfolded and must navigate an obstacle course while one team member stands, unblindfolded, on a perch trying to calmly yell instructions with clarity so as to get them to the end and to the prize.
But God, I think it was driving You crazy to see the world hurting and self-imploding.
So you got off of the perch and came down to guide us.
Not to remove us from the obstacle course, but to hold our hand and lead us to the finish…where there will be prizes. And what a relief that would be in the game and in life…what an edge…what an advantage.
So again, maybe I need to adjust my view of Christmas.
It’s not for a time where everything is perfect and all pain disappears for 25 days or even 24 hours.
It’s a time where I can say, “My life sucks and hurts. My life is hard. At times I want to escape it. But. BUT. Thank goodness You came down off of Your perch.
“Thank goodness that, though life can suck and hurt and have me begging to quit, thank goodness that You’re here with me…holding my hand, crawling with me until I cross the finish line and get the prize.
“Thank goodness I don’t have to do this alone.”
That’s the biggest reason why I shouldn’t hate Christmas.
Perhaps, ironically, God being with us in our sadness is what puts the ‘merry’ in our Christmas.
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…
Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you,
I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life .
Do not be afraid, for I am with you”