When Christmas Isn’t Merry

What are you doing for Christmas?

Instead of feeling excited at the thought, does that question make you anxious? Or sad?

Maybe you don’t have anything to do on Christmas. Maybe your family lives far away. Or maybe they are close by but come with a lot of headaches. Maybe you have to work on the 25th. Or maybe you lost someone you love this year and dread the memories.

For you, this might not be the most wonderful time of the year.

That dichotomy between what the decorations and the music tell you to feel (Happy! Joy! Merry!) and what you really feel (Cranky! Scrooge-y! Sad!) are what cause many people to feel depressed over the holidays.

So in this season of advent, what do you have to look forward to?

In college, I was so homesick that my advent calendar looked like a red-and-green paper chain that only motivated me to hold on until I could get on a plane and come home. For many of our first years together, my husband and I didn’t bother to get a tree because the time and expense. And this year, when I unwrapped a set of gold ornaments from my college advisor who died a year ago, I cried.

Rather than see similar instances in your own life as aberrations, what if we thought of them as normal? Because how many Christmas seasons can you count where everything went cheerfully along, full of mirth and wonder, sunup to sundown?

Christ was born to a disjointed dichotomy just like this. He had come to save the world in a miraculous, spectacular way, but the world wasn’t thrilled to see Him. There were no party hats. Piñatas. Fireworks. Instead he got a dirty manger. Cold air. Braying animals.

It’s important to not get distracted with how we are “supposed” to feel at Christmastime. With Jesus, we have the freedom to be who we are, where we are, any time of the year.

You’re allowed to be sad and lonely on Christmas. You’re allowed to be cheerful and sing carols in October. You can decorate or you can take a year off. What matters most, any time of the year, is that Jesus died for our sadnesses and came to give us real joy.

Jesus came because we needed rescuing from our grief and our misery. He is the bright star cast upon the dark sky.

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.

Lindsey M. Roberts spent years writing exclusively for secular journalism, including such outlets as The Washington Post, Architect, and Gray magazine, before she first tried to write about Jesus. She’s thrilled to explore in words how everything from cleaning the kitchen three times a day to delighting in the maritime history of Nantucket is an opportunity to meet and glorify God. Lindsey lives with her husband, a pastor and U.S. Army Reserve chaplain, and two children in Wisconsin.

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