I was talking to a dear friend today (and by talking I mean texting) and we were discussing how much we love Jesus, but how little we love Christmas. We discussed the absurdity of the over-the-top spirituality that suddenly appears December 1-25, the pressure to buy people gifts and bake things made with pumpkin or mint. We discussed how we dared not say aloud we didn’t care for Christmas, lest we do not pass go, do not collect $200, and basically go straight to hell.
Christmas is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year.” So why in the world do I get this weird, dragging feeling in my heart when my heart should be glowing? (With much misteltoe-ing–that’s not even a word.)
Why am I ready to pack it up on December 26 and sweep every pine needle right out of my home and life. I don’t mean to be a downer during what may be your favorite time of year, but the more people I open up to, the more I find share my sentiment–Christmas can just really take it out of you.
I think some of it has to do with the time of year when Christmas falls. Not only are trees bare and temperatures low, but it’s the end of the year. In the year’s final month, we are naturally reflecting on the previous 11 months and that can be emotional. We recall memories made, but we also lament missed opportunities. We cherish new friends made, but simultaneously long for distant family and friends. We gush at Christmas photos capturing beautiful families, but groan for friends who’ve lost loved ones. The end of anything isn’t easy, and poor Christmas has to fall at the end of the year.
Another thing is the work involved. I’m not going to lie, I am a terrible planner and Christmas takes too much planning and follow-through. Don’t get me wrong, I want to make sure my family has a wonderful Christmas, and not just out of obligation. I sincerely want my children to have family traditions they cherish and pass on to their families. But I feel like it’s already taking everything I’ve got just to give them a halfway-decent regular day–now I have to take it up a notch to wonderful? The God’s honest truth is the work involved with Christmas is exhausting.
I named my blog A Little Happy not because I experience real life as one big parade of bliss. (Although thank God it’s not one big parade of sadness either.) But I want to share honestly for those of us who deal with a hint of sadness at times when everything around you tells you it’s mandatory to be giddy. If you share this feeling, don’t beat yourself up. I think it’s quite natural to feel a little sad and weird–right along side your giddy–during this time of year.
WAIT! I almost forgot. The part I DO LOVE about Christmas. The reason I’d never ever go a single year without celebrating it, regardless of the planning and messy pine needles. The part where’s there’s a beginning! A tiny, holy baby. Jesus Christ, the long-awaited Messiah.
He is Emmanuel (God with us!), God being born into this weird, dragging world as a human. He came to dwell with humanity, and He felt all these confusing feelings. When He humbled Himself to our lowliness He saw just how sad and exhausted we felt in this broken earthly life. And He had compassion on us. Lots of compassion. So much compassion that when this baby grew up He said, “Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened. I’ll give you rest.”
If all you wanted for Christmas was rest from this weary race of human life, Christmas is great news for you. That tiny, cherub-faced baby you keep seeing everywhere was God’s plan to deliver the ultimate relief to humanity.
As I end each year–as I reflect, recall, lament, cherish, gush and groan–I also open again and again the great gift of Jesus. I cling to this gift all year, not just in December. Because I need compassion. I need relief and rest. I need salvation. I need Christmas.
A Little Happy is a blog dedicated to documenting the everyday life of a mother and wife. I feel a special call to minister to women who also deal with anxiety and depression. If your heart is feeling more than a little “weird and dragging,” please reach out to a close friend, doctor or pastor. Depression is different than feeling a little sad, and with the right treatment (and God’s endless grace) you can always find the little happy along the rough roads of life.