I heard this quote not long ago and it stuck with me…
At Christmas, we like to see things in their proper place. We unwrap the oldest legends and the ancient truths. We like our angels unchanged and our rituals familiar. We like the right faces around the table, the right carols sung, the promise that this is how it is and will always be. Because that is Christmas. The one still-point in a world ever turning.*
It’s true. We need to know we can count on certain things no matter what. It’s a touchstone of sorts, this holiday. A way to connect to the past and to the future all at once. A way to hold tight to what we do know even if what we don’t know looms ever too close. The fluff and stuff can be more than a little distracting, but the truth remains. We all need a little Christmas.
I find myself, this Christmas more than ever before, ridiculously pensive. Can’t quite put my finger on it. Though none of our Christmases have looked the same and some we flung tradition so far into the wind it came back unrecognizable, this one is all new.
Perhaps, it is because my kids are older. Perhaps, it is because we’ve moved and not one thing feels familiar. Perhaps, it is because the tree is half its usual size to fit into the new living room.
We opened our boxes of Christmas paraphernalia — at least the ones we could locate — and knew not where to put one darn thing except the star on top of the tree. It was fun to make new plans, and gosh, it looks gorgeous, but somehow the days since have left me a bit wobbly somewhere deep. Before you lose any sleep over it, I’m fine. I’m just needing to plant my feet a bit. Christmas has to be re-born for me, for us, this year. You know when you’re reading a really great book and all of a sudden in the middle somewhere, the author gives you a blank page out of nowhere and you turn it to find the words, Part II? All of a sudden, your characters are a bit older and have lived a chunk of their life without your knowing. That’s what this feels like for me. Part II. Not bad. Just a new jumping-off point.
Somehow, without familiarity around me, I feel rootless. And it makes me think about the millions of folks feeling this way, and so much worse this time of year. How about those who may have places to spend Christmas, but there’s really nothing comfortable or joyful about it? What about people far from their homes left wishing? Maybe there are kids in a house that isn’t a home at all and Christmas just pokes at that realization even harder. Some folks, through no choice of their own are left picking up other people’s messy pieces this Christmas and they’re left to face things in a whole new way.
It’s not all tinsel and snowflakes.
It deserves to be said that even for some who seem to have everything in place, this holiday can leave some sadness. Sometimes the kind upon which a finger cannot quite be placed. It’s all the hype, the expectation, that leaves holes and sometimes makes folks just go through the motions.
So. Strip it down. Undress all of the dollars and wrapping paper and ornaments we throw as a culture toward a day on the calendar and what is left?
Naked Christmas. What does that look like?
There’s the exquisitely simple and beautiful truth that supposedly started this whole thing. Frankly, I find it hard to wrap it all up and assign it to one day in December — the hope and light of my Jesus humbly arriving for me– for you. Once upon a time, a light pointed the way in the darkness. It’s too big and too grand of a concept for me to allow it to join hands with Santa and some flying northern deer. I really find that it’s more of the fabric of who I am than to drum it up for an upcoming Thursday. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the reminder, I just think it’s lost is some serious shuffle.
There’s this need we all have to belong, to know and be known.
And I’m pretty sure that the absence of that belonging is not only highlighted this time of year, but there is a million-watt searchlight beaming in on that issue right about now for a lot of folks. I like that I’m more aware of it than ever. I think it deserves to be faced, head-on. And it can’t be fixed with a free canned good or a few coins in a bucket near some jingling bells or even a plate filled with ham (such nice things by the way). I just mean that the hurt going on around us isn’t that simply fixed.
I kind of feel like this place I’m in is a good and needed reminder to look out for maybe even just one heart this year that feels a bit lonely — a bit off — and reach out for it.
To throw some love instead of some tinsel in that direction.
To be light in the darkness because that’s exactly what we were given.
To grab a hand in the dark and find the way to a manger…