The paper glimmered, the race to the tree thrilled, the anticipation built. Then, it was over. A strange sensation of dissatisfaction crawled in. Guilt tip-toed behind disappointment.
For many, Christmas is either spent sitting among tons of stuff that will only temporarily satisfy — or catching the hint of sadness in their mom’s eyes because she couldn’t afford every single thing on her kids’ lists.
This week I asked some girls to list their favourite things about Christmas.
One girl said she hates Christmas because she can never make both parents happy — she either chooses to be at her dad or her mom’s house; and when she’s not at the other parent’s house, she opens presents with a ribbon of grief.
Another said, “I like Christmas because it’s the one day my family is forced to put aside trouble and the reasons they don’t like each other.”
Ask anyone their favourite part about Christmas or what it means, and you’ll get similar answers: family, togetherness, peace, gift-giving — and for those willing to admit it: gift-receiving.
But what about those of us who are from broken families? What about those who don’t have dads or moms?
If Christmas is about family and togetherness and peace, then half our culture is in for a whirlwind of hurt and disappointment.
C.S. Lewis said it best: “We are half-hearted creatures… like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
When I read Isaiah 9:6-7 which prophesies a child, who is indeed going to be the Saviour of the world, I don’t marvel at family togetherness. I marvel at the promise fulfilled.
“And the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found grace (free, spontaneous, absolute favor and loving-kindness) with God. And listen! You will become pregnant and will give birth to a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus.”
As we enter into this Christmas season, let’s not allow ourselves to be so easily satisfied — or dissatisfied — with the fulfillment of our expectations for time with family or peace or presents.
Let’s fall on our knees and rejoice in the sheer majesty of a God who stands by His promises.
We get to receive that promise this day and Christmas Day and all the days after.
The promise of the One who saves us from ourselves, the One who will come back for us, who will strengthen us, guide us, bless us, heal us, protect us, love us without terms or conditions.
On Christmas morning as you’re with or without your family, as you’re experiencing peace, fighting, a surplus, or a lack of the things on your list, choose to open up the present of a promise of a full life: a life that is never lacking, never too much, and never beyond the limits of joy and stability and peace.
Photo (Flickr CC) by Stefanie Devriendt.