I thought I’d repost my Christmas blog from last year. It is bittersweet reading this now because my dad has passed away this year. Even if Christmas was difficult at times like I mention, I really wish I could still spend time with him this year. Remember this when you are with family…even when it is hard, at least they are with you breathing and alive. That is a gift.
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Here is the post:
I really really want to like Christmas.
I try. I close my eyes and say “I have a good life, I have a good life, I have a good life. I like Christmas.”
But it is really really hard to be single at Christmas time. (I am so temped to make some kind of comment about being a “round young virgin.” but that is totally tasteless. And yet, I still had to sneak it in there.)
Did you know that Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of children? Of course he is. Children make Christmas come alive. And so Christmas is often a reminder that I don’t have any. Christmas, for many of us, is the Great Reminder.
For the most part, I like the season of Christmas. I know, I know, Christmas trees came from some pagan tradition and Santa Clause was an invention of controlling money hungry co-ops, but whatever. God is the father of lights. He made those trees and he inspired those lights, and they are lovely. Santa Clause was inspired originally by Saint Nicholas, a man who took very good care of the poor. In a way, he inspired the whole world to give gifts to each other. And so I like the beautiful trees lining Pearl Street where I live. I like that big jolly man that makes children full of anticipation and laughter and reminds us to give to each other.
I love people walking around and singing songs outside of your door. I mean, when does that happen? I would be shocked if a group of strangers came to my door in June and started singing Barry Manilow songs. But no one is shocked this time of year. Because this is the time of year where even strangers are supposed to be kind to each other. And I love that.
And yet, I often don’t like the day of Christmas. That day is the Great Reminder more than any other day of the year. Sometimes I don’t know where to go. I don’t have my own tree or my own presents under them, because I don’t have my own children and husband to give those presents to. I could put up a Christmas tree just for myself, but that would be pretty depressing.
I used to go to my Dad’s house for Christmas. I love my dad, I really do. But he has never really liked Christmas. At all. I am the kind of person that always wants to make holidays special. I really, really want to feel like a family. Because they’re all I’ve got.
Now, I usually go to my brother and sister in law’s house. I am very close to them, and I love their children to pieces. So I do have that. That is more than a lot of people have.
A few years ago. my sister in law’s fire dancing troupe needed to practice on Christmas Eve. We went in the backyard with a bunch of hand drums and played the most hippie dancing Christmas carols you can imagine. (We’re all wanna be hippies.) Our very own Christmas fire dancers swung their fire balls and fire batons against the crisp night sky with snow all around us.
That was a high point.
I mean, who gets fire dancers as a Christmas tradition? I do. In fact, if I ever do have my own family, I’m going to keep that tradition up. “Come on kids, it’s time to wave flaming sticks at each other!”
I am reminded this season that I have a lot and I have a little. If I don’t focus on the a lot, I will be overwhelmed by the little.
I don’t want to end this post with a pat formula saying “if you just remember how wonderful Jesus is, you will forget your loneliness.” That’s not true. Those feelings of loneliness are real and they are difficult. God understands how hard it is. He knows that as of now he is not with us in the flesh. He understands that in this season of remembering the ones you love, sometimes you just want someone to hold you. To actually physically hold you. You want children to open the presents you gave them. But there is no one to hold you. There is not the laughter of children that makes Christmas come alive.
And it hurts.
But I do want to end with this thought, something I have been thinking about a lot this season.
The chorus of a song I wrote a long time ago goes like this:
“Tell me the story again for the first time
A babe in a manger, who’s really the Savior of all mankind
Tell me the story again for the first time
The passionate God who would live and would die
All because of your love for me.”
Tell me the story again for the first time: The God who could not be contained by the universe came down to be confined to a little baby so that we could hold him close to our heart.
That is more than a story. It is the deepest story. The God who spoke the stars into place lived in that baby. And he grew up in that confined space to be near to us. He died to be near to us.
That is the most beautiful love story there is. How could it get more beautiful?
It is the story that every other story comes from.
And on Christmas day, just for a while, I want to remember that story instead of how lonely I am. I want Christmas to be the Great Reminder that despite how hard this season is for me, I live in a story that is deeper than any other story.
And I am covered by love that is greater than any other love.