Perhaps “hate” is a strong word to use. Maybe the phrase, “It’s complicated” would be a more accurate description of the feelings I have toward the Christmas season.Over the last several years I’ve been known as somewhat of a Scrooge/Grinch when it comes to Christmas. It’s a joke of sorts, but not completely ungrounded in my complicated feelings toward the holiday.
Let me explain this.
I don’t actually hate Christmas. I think to hate what Christmas really stands for would be to hate what I believe in and to hate the Gospel. I can’t and won’t do that.
The complicated feelings come in when…..well, that’s the part I struggle to pinpoint.
Black Friday, Christmas paraphernalia in October, long Amazon lists, lights, cheesy halmark movies, cyber Monday, endless Christmas renditions of the same 5 songs on the radio, high pressured church programs….
Santa, trees, giving, receiving, reindeer, nativity, elves, Angels….
Who’s house are we doing Christmas at? We must stick with traditions, someone inevitably gets offended, don’t open presents til I’m there, giving/receiving by certain standards…
It almost becomes a nauseated conglomeration that is just as mixed up as a Christmas fruit cake.
I don’t blame anyone because it seems well meaning …I often think it’s just me.
The pressure of everything being just right, giving the right gift, spending enough money….the pressure of not measuring up.
And at the end of it, I feel empty and confused.
I just can’t take it.
I can never give like I want.
I can never measure up.
I will never be satisfied when it’s all over.
Nothing of it seems worth it and it makes my stomach churn….or worse, leaves an empty pit.
The hype and the reward never match.
So, now what?
What do I do in the face of such contradictory celebrations? When those who rebuke me for not liking Christmas have dead joy when we sing Christmas songs filled with poignant truth? When people are shoving lists in my face or bragging about the gift they bought? When Christmas becomes about giving or getting the best new toy and spending vast amounts of money when people are starving or cold?
My heart wrenches and I feel helpless.
But deep in my heart, I don’t hate it.
I can’t hate it.
Light came into darkness. Light came into my darkness.
This….this is Christmas.
I see darkness all around me and within me, if not more so during this season. It’s easy to be greedy or jaded, forgetting why we do sing those songs or recite the same Luke 2 passage.
Light came into darkness….my darkness….and did not shy away from it.
How can I hate that?
But somehow, that gets lost. I wish it didn’t though.
But then Light can never be covered up, so, though I think it gets lost, it doesn’t….I just have to look for it to see it.
It’s there when the group of volunteers give gifts to orphans. It’s there when people give up their holiday to feed those without. It’s there when a friend asks that money for gifts be used to buy bibles for people overseas. It’s there when the snow falls. It’s there in a child’s smile at Christmas lights. It’s there when that one person in the congregation gets the message of a song and it shows in their eyes.
It’s there when the truth of God’s stepping into human flesh brings awe and hope in my heart and brings me to my knees.
So despite all of the hype that leaves me jaded, I don’t actually hate Christmas.
Perhaps I just feel lost. But perhaps it’s in the lostness that I find the Light.