December 23, 2010

When Your Christmas Is Neither White Nor Merry

We all have some idea of what Christmas ought to look like. On a basic level there needs to be a fresh batch of flawless white snow, a well cooked meal prepared, eggnog, rosy red cheeks, (either because of the snow or eggnog this one has really have been clear to me) and lots of nicely wrapped presents under a well decorated tree. On a more personal level Christmas is also supposed to be a time of family togetherness, good cheer and a lot of joy. We all know this is what Christmas is supposed to look like. If your Christmas will look like this I have nothing left to say to you; other than Merry Christmas!

My Christmas will not look like this, and if yours will not either we have more to talk about.

First again on a very basic level, a Christmas with fluffy white snow, ice skating and hot coco  will not happen. Well maybe the hot coco but there is no snow and no ice here. So unless we have some sort of Christmas snow 'miracle' that's out. Not that I mind the warmer weather has been really helpful on my heating bill.

I don't mind not having snow, but I am worried about not having the other stuff we just listed. I'm worried about not having the joy. Part of what is causing me to worry is what could be called routine family changes that I am still adjusting too. On the one hand in the past few years we have lost family members and they are still very much missed at Christmas. On the other hand we have added family members through birth and marriage which also has changed things. I am slowly and painfully coming to the realization that the Christmas I remember from my childhood is over and it cannot be recreated. To many things have changed, all the players needed are not here and some new players need to be taken into account.

I'm a stickler for family traditions but I could adjust relatively easily to the changes if  things were not so tense and family relations not so stressed. I'll save you the sorted details but it is sufficient to say there is enough going on in all wings of my family to keep everyone nicely stressed out and frustrated over Christmas. And these frustrations and stresses make things tense because we know Christmas is supposed to be a happy and joyful time. It is not unlike trying to fall asleep which tends to keep you awake, trying to feel happy when you are not tends to make you more frustrated.

So if you are like me, what do we do? Piece of me wants to go to bed tonight and wake up on December 26th. Another piece of me wants to lock all our doors and windows , unplug the phone and hunker down with just the three of us and play with toys watch movies and eat hamburgers all Christmas. In all reality we won't do either. In part because I do want to see my extended family and in part because I don't want them mad at us for the rest of our lives.

So what do we do? Right now I am trying to remind myself of the point of Christmas. I am reminding myself that the first Christmas was hard, tense stressful and not at all what anyone really wanted. That provides me some comfort.

But more than that I am finding myself encouraged by why Jesus came to earth so many years ago. He came to defeat evil, injustice, sickness, death and sin. Which admittedly are the list of things that are trying to ruin Christmas for me.

I celebrate Christmas not because I want to try to carve out a perfect family moment with an otherwise imperfect family. I celebrate Christmas because Christ came to destroy all the things that are trying to destroy my family and destroy my joy.

He came to announce peace on earth between God and humanity allowing there to be piece between people as well.

Maybe I can look pass all the things that are hurting me, frustrating me, and causing me stress. Maybe I can remember that Christ did not come to cause me stress and frustration by creating Christmas. Maybe I can take comfort in knowing Jesus Christ has both defeated sin and is at work right now subduing sin. Maybe I can take comfort is knowing that the victory is assured; so I can try with all my might to dismantle some of the effects of sin that I see.

I think the narrator of the Grinch that stole Christmas is right, Christmas does come from the heart. But it is not my heart, it is the heart of God.

Maybe just maybe if I can lift my eyes from myself, and stop focusing my heart on my problems and place my eyes and heart on Jesus I can have a merry Christmas. I don't know if it will work, but I sure will try. Try with me won't you.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Maybe by focusing on Jesus I can feel like we look; Joyful


  1. I know, I know a little late in reading it but all I can say is wow.
    Nice analogy between this Christmas and the first Christmas. I really love reading your blogs. You are well spoken and insightful. FYI I had a lovely Christmas. I do try not to create stress or complications and I think things worked out nicely. :)

  2. I think Christmas went really well too. And no one tries to cause stress, or complications.

    We love having you down with us. Like I said there was just enough going on every where that I was imagining a major blow up some where along the way. Which wonderfully didn't happen.

    If anything there was one major stressor and and a few things that I wouldn't have given thought too otherwise.

    But your right things works out very nicely, even if I made you watch a movie you didn't like :)