I haven’t heard as much of the debate this year about the appropriate way to greet our fellow humans throughout this season. I find it interesting only because I swear I may have punched someone in the throat if they said, ‘Happy holidays!’ I much prefer ‘Merry Christmas!’ this go-around. Thankyaverymuch.
I only threaten with punching, but I would contend that the holidays aren’t conjuring up much ‘happy’ for a number of the members of my tribe this year. Some of my most precious people are facing the unimaginable pain of an empty (immeasurably noticeable) seat this Christmas. A seat that should have been filled by a husband, a son, a mother, an unborn child and sadly, the list goes on.
It just makes my heart heavy. Because I realize that there is literally nothing I can do to take that pain away. I would take the seat a million times over of those who are missing if I could just steal an ounce of that grief but I can’t. And it wouldn’t.
The reality is that the holidays are likely a very close second to anniversaries of significant events in those individual’s lives as it relates to reminders of what isn’t right in the world. Maybe it’s because we gather as families during the holidays? Maybe it’s because it’s the time of the year when we were most committed to pursuing those things we deem as tradition? Or maybe it’s because we’ve been flooded with all the happy of the families who seemingly have it all together on Facebook? p.s. they don’t.
Regardless of what it truly ‘is’, the holidays can be just.plain.sad. … especially here in Michigan because we have already forgotten what it’s like to see the sun. (Side note: I saw the sun for two minutes yesterday and literally lifted my face to the window and grinned at its appearance. Not kidding.) And when you’re in the midst of the merriment, a deep, dark hole sounds strangely inviting and maybe even preferable to the idea of putting up a Christmas tree.
I have a bit of encouragement for you on this Christmas Eve of the worst year in history (for many), though.
Choose to find the happy.
Look for stories of hope (real hope, not that manufactured nonsense). It is there. Even in the midst of everything that seems 100% wrong, I promise you (PROMISE!) that there is something that will provide you with a moment, even if only for a moment, of peace. Consider the blessings that you do have. Find a way to be thankful for the gifts you did receive this year. Think of those humans that are carrying you right now. Look for those people you could bear witness to because of the pain you’ve realized. Seek out opportunities to give of yourself in some capacity (the what specifically is irrelevant; it all just becomes love anyhow). Imagine how the sun feels on your face (yes you, Michiganders) and revel in it for just a minute. And if all else fails, take a bath. Seriously, I did that last night and it was bomb.
But seriously, if all else really does fail, we have the opportunity to find hope in the gift of a Savior born to (literally) save you and me. Can you even imagine in today’s world a post of a family announcing the birth of their son in a manger bed? In a stable? No merriment, friends. None. (And likely zero likes!) And yet, this simple birth provides us the opportunity to realize Love is here. And now.
To the hurting, and you know who you are, I love you. I wish I could repair that massive hole in your heart but I know I can’t. I do, however, hand out free hugs like candy. And if you need one, I’m here.
“In the midst of the darkness … the star of Bethlehem shines bright.” – Dennis Rainey