Christmas makes me sad. This seems to be an inevitable reality, for various reasons. This year, it wasn’t the
usual suspects: unrealistic expectations, a too-crammed calendar, not enough (or too much) family and friends. Or the catch-all category: holiday blues. No, this year I think I’ve discovered something lurking beneath the typical answers.
Yesterday afternoon I dragged our fragrant but dried-out Christmas tree outside to dispose of its stiffened carcass. I took a saw to its branches, chopping it up so it would fit in the “green barrel”. I found myself feeling nostalgic and a bit melancholy, despite the fact that I got to use power tools. This was real. “Why does it always have to end so soon?” flitted through my mind. Yes, that’s it. That’s what’s been stirring underneath.
Even as we start decorating and preparing for the Christmas season, I’m wistful. Can’t wait for it to get here while simultaneously mourning it’s too-quick passing. Longing for the beautiful, even sacred moments– even as I acknowledge that they can’t be conjured and they won’t last nearly long enough. Like crumpled remains of wrapping paper scattered on a living room floor. Like stockings hung by the chimney with care, now back in the box awaiting next year. Here too briefly, gone too quickly.
And all of this would be entirely dispiriting were it not for a decidedly non-Christmas event—the Resurrection of Jesus. The child of the manger will grow to willingly embrace the rough-hewn beams of the Cross, freely paying the price for our offenses. A Life of such promise and hope so quickly finished. Here too briefly, gone too quickly. Except it wasn’t over.
The resurrection tells us that our longings for something more beautiful and permanent are not in vain. All good things do not have to come to an end. In fact, they won’t. When Jesus walked out of a tomb He didn’t just announce His victory over sin, hell, and death. He gave us a picture of what we can expect. What our future- in Him- holds. This isn’t simply good news, but rather the Best. News. Ever. In the words of Sam from Tolkien’s Return of the King, “Everything sad is going to come untrue!”
I can’t wait for that day. Soon- at least in God’s vantage point of time—it will be here. But until then, even with hope in my heart—Christmas will probably still make me sad.