Good thing I rarely write a Christmas letter. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting them, opening that envelope and reading them, so I know that makes me a bit of a hypocrite. When I do write one, it’s a surprise to everyone (especially since it may arrive at any random time of year that ISN’T Christmas). This year, though, I’m grateful for the low expectations I’ve nurtured amongst friends and family.
‘Cause this year, the Christmas letter wouldn’t be very fun. Or it would be VERY fake.
Not that I couldn’t talk about my kids, how they are growing, how they are doing in school, what extracurricular activities they enjoy. I could wax eloquently about summer family camping adventures, or my husband’s job, or my new-found conviction that I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now, even though I am about the least-qualified stay-at-home-mom EVER. IN. HISTORY.
But that letter would be bunk. Hooey. Bull-hockey, as a friend’s grandpa used to say.
The truth this year, as I stumble my way through Advent towards Christmas, is that I’m weighted down with sadness. An inescapable sadness from different tough things going on in our just-outside-nuclear family, a sadness that pours down over me like sticky, heavy syrup.
And sadness ain’t Christmas-y, people.
Truthfully, sometimes life just sucks.
Sometimes, the very best available option of a whole pile of bad options is still pretty awful.
I hadn’t put a name to what was up until I took a few minutes recently to just sit quietly and “feel my feelings”. As the sadness made itself known, and I realized how deeply the sticky heavy had sunk into me, I felt myself getting panicky.
It’s Christmas! Season of joy, happiness, and celebration! I have gifts to buy! Cookies to bake! Teacher gifts to wrap! Decorations to decorate! A tree! Carols!
Much of the fun hullabaloo of Christmas is up to me to create for my family, and we have three boys who need fun! And Christmas! and more hullabaloo! (Tiny tangent – in case you were concerned, that is the correct spelling. Hullabaloo is in my spell check. Really? Hullabaloo? OK.)
So I began to forbid the sadness, and to feel guilty for feeling it. Panic rose up in me, telling me loud lies about how the sad and I would ruin Christmas.
And then I felt a Whisper*. A Whisper that said it was OK. It was ok to be sad. I am sad for good reason. If I faked my way through Advent, convincing myself and everyone else that I had it All Together All By Myself Thank You, then why would I need Christmas?
If I can’t be honest that I’m grieving real things that are really happening, that we live in a broken world of broken people who are hurting and who hurt us, then I don’t need a Christmas from a God who would reach down to us through time and space and history to give us Hope.
And I DO need that. I do need hope.
And I need to be honest. Honest with you, Blog Readers, with my friends, with people I see. Because if I say all is well and I fake it till I can make it, there is no authenticity or vulnerability that leaves room for healing or for hope. There is only room for the lies to get louder.
So….yeah. I’m sad, and it’s Christmas. But that’s ok. ‘Cause if I am real about the hurts in my life and the empty places, I make room for Him to reach down, and room for us to reach out. Then we get to help be Emanuel, God Among Us. We get to be His strength and peace and hope for each other.
And that is Merry for sure.
In case you were wondering, BTW, I don’t think I’m depressed, not clinically. (Honest, Mom.) Been there, done that. (And I’ve already given the hubby permission to be on the lookout anyway, just in case.)
*(I’m from way too moderate a tradition to probably ever feel comfortable saying “I heard God say….” However, I do feel Whispers. And Nudges. And occasionally Kicks in the Pants.)
Have you ever had a Christmas that included some sad? How did you honor that?