Today is Christmas. (I mention this in case, y’know, you hadn’t noticed.) This day finds each of us in a different place. Some of us are rejoicing. Some of us are burdened, lost, hopeless, or heartbroken. Some of us are drinking a fifth cup of coffee and thinking about The Legend of Zelda. (All right, that last one might just be me.)
I like to think I’m pretty good with words. Whatever my faults—and they are many—I can generally think of something funny or clever to say. It’s on days like this one, when words matter most, that I can’t seem to find the right ones. Anyhow, I can’t seem to express my feelings without sounding like those insincere messages printed in holiday cards, which is one of the most embarrassing things that can happen to a writer.
Today is Christmas, and even if it means sounding like a generic holiday card, I want to say just a few things.
To those who are rejoicing today, I say this: I’m happy for you. I hope your Christmas is full of nostalgia for the past, contentment in the present, and hope for the future. May your day be filled with laughter, loved ones, and cookies. May the year ahead be the best and brightest you’ve ever had.
To those who are grieving today, I say this: I’m sorry. May you find whatever joy and comfort you can this Christmas, and may the year ahead bring you healing, peace, happiness, and hope.
All right, I’m done with the holiday card stuff, but there’s one more thing I want to say.
For those of us who live far north of the Equator, Christmas comes and goes in the freezing darkness of winter. The holiday season is like a candle flame, burning bright and warm, extinguished in a moment. We clear away the wrapping paper, take down the Christmas trees, and resume our ordinary little lives. The nights, no longer lit by colored lights, are still long. Without the excitement and bustle of the holidays, the cold seems ever more oppressive. Winter loses its charm. The warm feelings of Christmas disappear like last week’s snow.
Relient K puts it well: “No more lights glistening. No more carols to sing. But Christmas—it makes way for spring.”
The celebration was brief when Christ was born. Then it was back to a time as dark and bitter as any winter. God seemed to have abandoned Israel. There were no more prophets. The Roman Empire ruled over God’s nation with disdain. The first Christmas was over, and it was back to life as usual.
In the end, Christ gave his life for us all, and then promptly took it up again in history’s greatest miracle. A new age began. The church grew and spread. Winter was done. Spring had come.
Wherever you are today—happy or sad, rejoicing or grieving, surrounded by loved ones or far from home—I pray that your own winters end quickly. May the life, light, and warmth of spring be never far from you, and may this Christmas be a hopeful prelude to something even better.
God bless you, dear reader.