Christmas doesn’t seem to work for everybody. No, I’m not going to blame holiday consumerism. It’s too easy a target, anyway. My brother asked me the other day, “Can I use an Amazon gift card to buy somebody an Amazon gift card?” That sounds like a blog post just waiting to happen.
Maybe it’s the overdose of seasonal music that makes us long for January. Personally, I like “Silent Night” the same way I like my opera…in 15 minute doses and then I’m good for a very long while. Here are a few other opinions on holiday music that I lifted from real twitter posts:
- I just wanna get drunk off some wine, listen to sad music and watch Christmas movies all night
- Christmas music is ruining all of the country stations.
- People who don’t like Christmas music frighten me a little
- I hate Christmas music. sorry
- isn’t it weird that there’s a whole music genre dedicated to one day (Christmas)
Feelings are all over the board.
The exciting, hug-yourself, crazy Christmas joy we ought to be having doesn’t seem to be there for some of us. Several news sources estimate that millions will basically suffer through the holidays this year—singles, displaced, bereaved, empty nesters, forgotten seniors.
Even for those of us with generally good, over-the-top memorable Christmases, we can still be afflicted with a weird, Charlie Brown melancholy.
Is Christmas broke? There’s no way of telling until we unplug “Christ” from “mas” and take a closer look at each of them. First, “Christ” :
An angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds the night of Jesus’ birth, saying, “I bring you good tidings of great joy…”1 Okay, so far, no depression, no sorrow. No loss. No melancholy. No loneliness. In fact, just the opposite.
“…great joy which will be to all people.”2 That includes lonely singles, the disadvantaged, the marginalized, folks in assisted living, and anyone who ever lost anybody. This good news is all about “a Savior who is Christ the Lord.” 3
Then there was “a multitude of the heavenly host praising God.”4 Angels found the news so compelling they couldn’t restrain themselves. And the shepherds couldn’t either—“glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen…”5
Okay, no problem here. Christ isn’t broke.
But the “mas” of Christmas introduces Bing Crosby, stockings, parties, mistletoe, egg nog, It’s a Wonderful Life, trees, elves, Black Friday, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and Santa Clause. None of these things are necessarily bad. It’s just that they stir traditional sentiments, not praise. Enjoy them. But don’t expect to be lifted into some transcendent place. Don’t expect to return to work on January 2, and like those shepherds, be forever changed. Neither holiday ham nor neighborhood lights can do that. Only the gospel can.
The confusion point occurs when we blur the line between the incarnation of the Son of God and Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer. One stirs the presence of Almighty God, the other ghosts of Christmas past. One is the meaning of life itself. The other is for fun. Never forget the difference.
After I’m done with an awesome visit with relatives, and my Charlie Brown tree has been packed away, and I’m back on the treadmill working off the Christmas cookies, I can count on one thing. That is, I’ll kneel down in my basement near the thud-thud-thud of the washing machine, and talk to the One who originally caused the angelic outburst and the shepherd’s celebration.
He’ll say, I am here.
And for the ten thousandth time, I’ll rejoice.
1 Luke 2:10
2 Luke 2:10
4 Luke 2:13
5 Luke 2:20