Un “Happy Holidays”

“We wish you a Merry Christmas. We wish you a Merry Christmas. We Wish you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year…”

Un-Happy Holy DaysIt won’t be long before Christmas songs take over all of the radio stations, retail shops, and the majority of businesses that routinely play background music. The Holidays are upon us – like it or not.

Not everyone likes it.

When I was a child Christmas was full of promise. I didn’t have any understanding of the baby Jesus lying in the manger, but he was somehow important. The son of God.  It was a time of warm memories.  My mother would bake lots of cookies in advance of her Irish Catholic family gathering at our home. I loved those cookies.

I still do. unhappy holy day 2.jpg 6Somewhere about December 15th Santa Claus would come into town. Riding atop his sleigh with wooden reindeer, He would proceed down one street adjacent to our home, headed for the Bergen Mall. Of course my father explained that he was one of Santa’s helpers;  Santa himself was far too busy getting ready for Christmas to have little ones sit on his lap. However, Santa or one of his helpers, I never minded that the reindeer were wooden, or the float was upon wheels and pulled by a truck. If it happened to snow during that time, it was magical. 

unhappy holy day 2The yearly, very coveted viewing of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Frosty the Snowman and The Little Drummer Boy would air on TV.  The Littlest Angel would stand before God to present Him with his little box, filled with a worn out dog collar, smooth stones, and the bluest robin eggs.  I would sit enraptured by it all, as if it was the first time I had ever felt such wonderment.

With the passing of time comes a measure of disillusionment.

Maybe you have been one of the fortunate ones who think your “good times” and “blessed life” are a measure of your “faith” in God. But if you are like the rest of us, we have discovered that our faith has been tested, our warm memories have sometimes been replaced by a Nor’easter, and our cherished annual movies are now on DVD’s.

Santa isn’t real. Pain is.

unhappy holy day 2.jpg  5I have cried through the holidays for about 7 years now. Painful, welcomed tears of lament, before the God of all comfort.

The blessings of what I have surrounding me are contrasted by the stark reminders of all the people I’ve lost, all the homes we’ve moved away from, all the children who are grown and gone, and all the cherished but lost gentle touches of life.

My children have not been under the same roof in years – gone is the magic of children’s voices. Gone is the smell of my mothers kitchen filled with the aromas childhoods are made of. This year was going to be different – my kids and grand-kids would all be home together – a coveted family picture would be taken. I was planning many batches of Nanny’s cookies. Memories would be made, laughter would be shared.

unholy holy day 3 linusBut plans change. Life moves on no matter how hard we try to make it stop. No coveted picture again this year. More changes, more losses, more disappointments. More disillusionment.

The one thing that remains – the greatest thing that remains – that holds true – that brings hope – is the wonderment of God.

Jesus really did come to us in the lowliest of forms, born in a manger, lived as one of us, and suffered on our behalf.

unhappy holy days 4It is by holding on to the hand of God that we wade through the floods of disillusionment. It is by offering up our robin’s eggs that He reaches out to accept our gifts of sorrow. He sees us as little children filled with wonder and he picks us up so we may behold the Infant King, holding us closest to His heart.

The “Holy Days” are not always so happy for many of us. That’s OK. If you are suffering through this Christmas, just remember the words of singer / songwriter Michael Card,

Come lift up your sorrows
And offer your pain;
Come make a sacrifice
Of all your shame;
There in your wilderness
He’s waiting for you
To worship Him with your wounds,
For He’s wounded too.

He has not stuttered, and He has not lied
When He said, “Come unto me, you’re not disqualified”
When your heavy laden, you may want to depart,
But those who know sorrow are closest to His heart.

In this most Holy Place
He’s made a sacred space
For those who will enter in
And trust to cry out to Him;
You’ll find no curtain there,
No reason left for fear;
There’s perfect freedom here
To weep every unwept tear.

He beholds each one of our tears as unique, and as beautiful as a snowflake, and He delights in holding every unwept tear.

unhappy holy day 6No, the holidays are not always happy, and Christmas is not always Merry, but God is always holding us through it, and joy is always just a tear away.

 

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