It’s the Holidays again, my least favorite time of year. I know, I know, it’s Christmas. You’re supposed to LOVE Christmas. Well, I don’t. When I was a child they took me to church and told me the Christmas Story, and put me in the choir so I could sing about the Christmas Story. Everything was supposed to be full of peace and goodness and light, and Jesus was perfect, and God was good, and all was well.
The problem was, all that stuff may have been true at church, but the exact opposite was true at home, and it didn’t take very long before I began to see how hypocritical it all was. Where was Jesus when Harry was beating and raping me? Where was God when Harry was telling me that he had to do all this stuff to me because God hated me?
So it didn’t take very long before I began to hate Christmas, and my hatred grew year by year, because the abuse never stopped, and the hypocrisy only got worse as Harry’s treachery and lies, especially about God, made me want to tell God I hated Him back. I mean, if He hated me, why should I try to love Him? All I’d ever wanted was to please Harry, and by extension, God, and it didn’t matter what I did, it was never good enough. All I ever got was more abuse and more vitriol in return for my efforts.
Then, in February of 1972, I became a Christian ~ absolutely the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. The changes as a result of that decision weren’t immediate. I was such a mess that God had to work slowly to heal me, so I didn’t find out until many years later that all those terrible things that Harry told me about God, and about myself, were nothing but lies.
And all those years when I was crying out to God, desperate to know where He was, it turned out He was right there with me, protecting me from the worst of the abuse, and saving my life when death encroached because my mother tried to kill me, or because Harry had threatened to kill me so many times that I thought suicide would be better than having to stay strong against his ultimatums to keep me silent about what he was doing to me. And finally, God was saving my life from my many suicide attempts ~ nine in all ~ because I could no longer bear the weight of the emotional agony that constantly and continuously tormented my soul.
My gratitude to God knows no bounds for what He’s done for me throughout my life. And of course that includes the fact that He saved my soul through the Cross of Christ, but He’s been keeping me alive ever since I was born into this world so that, in the fullness of time, I could come to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
But the reason I hate the Holidays isn’t limited to my own issues. It has a lot to do with the commercialism and materialism that have consumed American society, and which seems to be getting worse and worse every single year. People talk about the true spirit of Christmas, but when you ask them what that means, they spout some folderol about giving to the poor, or feeding the hungry, or helping the needy, or ending homelessness, or… or… or…. And while all those things are important problems that need to be addressed, that’s not what Christmas is supposed to be about.
The real REAL reason for Christmas is to celebrate the fact that Jesus Christ came to earth as a human baby so He could go to the Cross and die for the sins of humanity, bringing us back into right relationship with God. He chose to step down from His place in Glory so He could become a peeing, pooping baby, taking on human flesh, experiencing what we go through on an intimate level.
What an unfathomable, unspeakable, incalculable, incomprehensible, immeasurable gift God has given us! There aren’t enough words in the English language to express what a marvelous and wonderful gift it was that God gave humanity!
Yet people seem to have forgotten about God’s most wondrous and amazing gift altogether while they try to best each other by spending more money than their neighbors (gotta keep up with the Joneses after all), and spending more money this year than they did last year on gifts, on Christmas lights (for example, The Great Christmas Light Fight on ABC TV), and innumerable other ridiculosities that the devil uses to distract them from looking at, and taking in Jesus Christ, the baby in the manger.
The ads on TV are a perfect example of what I’m talking about. Pretty much without exception they’re about spending as much money as possible on everyone you know. Having the most expensive car, and making sure the people you love have one as well is the way to go, because that’s how they’ll know that you love them, right? WRONG!
Love should NEVER be monetized! Equating love with money is just wrong, and yet people do it all the time!
I started writing this a couple of weeks ago, around December 20th, and I’m finally finishing it after Christmas is over. But that’s another part of my problem with Christmas. There’s this huge buildup to Christmas Day, with nonstop radio and television programming, shopping, cooking, and decorating etc., etc., and once the day has past, it’s like we’ve driven off a cliff. Christmas trees get thrown out, the decorations are taken down, there are no more Christmas movies on TV, no more Christmas carols on the radio, and yada yada yada. One day we’re celebrating, and the next day it feels like Christmas never happened.
All Christmas celebrations stop abruptly, and yet, the reason for celebrating Christmas in the first place, Immanuel, God with us, Jesus coming to earth as a baby to save us all from our sins hasn’t changed. God is still with us. Christ died on the Cross, and was resurrected, and now sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for us. All of that is still true, and will continue to be true, because God never changes.
Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. ~ Romans 8:33-34, NIV.
Despite my problems with the Holidays, God is good, and He’s so good to me. He continues to heal me, and Christmas gets easier every year. I’m very grateful for that. This year, my two best friends and I celebrated together, something we’ve never done before, and we had a delightful time. One of them is a marvelous cook, so she made the food, and we spent the time talking about the Bible, and about our lives, and our hopes for the future, and how wonderful God is. It was thoroughly enjoyable. I’m finding more and more that I really don’t need much to keep me happy.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. ~ 1 Timothy 6:6, KJV.
If I can just remember that every year around the Holidays I think I’ll be okay.
What a great post! You said it all! The same things bother me, just not with the same intensity. I had a lot of depression this time, making it harder than usual to get anything done, at a time when more is expected than usual (shopping, decorating, wearing Christmas colors, etc.). The increased expectations add to the pressure and anxiety, and not getting most of those things done makes me feel like a failure. Major bummer!
And, if we’re not celebrating Jesus’s birth, then what are we celebrating? Winter? Walking in a winter wonderland? Dreaming of a White Christmas? Guess what? We don’t get those things here in so cal! Now, those songs give me a bit of happy nostalgia from happy times in my childhood, but if that’s all i hear, it begins to feel rather empty and pointless. Thank God for Christian radio that plays both the Winter Wonderland and the sacred, awe-inspiring Mary Did You Know songs!
I’m beginning to formulate a solution for those of us who have trouble with Christmas. I want to take it back from what the secular world has made of it. Maybe I don’t want to be all grinchy or scroogy about it, but rather get ahead of the game, before the world has a chance to ruin it for me. I’m thinking maybe have a plan to team up with another friend with to start doing things together early, even before Thanksgiving, maybe even in October (you know, sort of taking back that month from the darkness of Halloween). Sorting out decorations in advance of when Christmas trees/pine boughs are available, putting out nativity scenes or whatever things you have, sharing or pooling items. Decorating each other’s homes. Simple things, like going to tree lots together, putting up a string of lights in a window, ready to turn on the day BEFORE Thanksgiving. I want to celebrate Christmas BECAUSE of the joy of knowing that Jesus came for me, and do it in a way that communicates that joy to the world that doesn’t know Him, but also in a way that doesn’t become burdensome or obligatory.
My brain is doing a lot of brainstorming right now! Like maybe even having a monthly get together to start coming up with ideas, making handmade crafts, shopping online for things out of season when they are cheaper, etc. I want to be victorious next Christmas, not dragged around by the world’s empty expectations!
What do you think? Any suggestions?