“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”
In spite of the song sung every Christmas season about how wonderful Christmas is, I have mixed feelings. One one hand, I enjoy the nostalgic feelings that come along with all the decor, the food, and the music. It reminds me of the oblivious days of childhood, when every harsh reality could be easily kept at bay by playing in the dirt and pretending that I was one of the Dukes of Hazzard.
On the other hand, I am quickly annoyed by the forced cheerfulness that is sometimes a part of the holiday season. Earlier this week, I was quizzed as to why I wasn’t in a better mood. “It’s Christmas, after all!” It was topped off with a comment from one co-worker to another that Christmas “is a time when we are supposed to be cheerful.” This comment only further entrenched my Grinch-likeness.
What bothered me about that? Were they right? Should I put aside any feelings of angst, just for the sake of “holiday cheer?”
“Don’t Worry, Be Happy” is the mantra for these happily-going-lucky types, but there’s something there that doesn’t feel much like real life to me. We sometimes carry heavy burdens, regardless of how close we are to Christmas, and those burdens don’t go away just because we try real hard to get in the spirit.
Christmas is about one thing only: becoming receptive to a God who has come to us through the humble, messy trappings of humanity. We can be in an interactive, life-transforming relationship with God precisely because his invitation did not come with a requirement that we “cheer up” before we come to him.
So be a Scrooge at Christmas if that’s all you have to offer, but do so with the knowledge that Jesus welcomes you to friendship with God, whether you are the Grinch, Cousin Eddie, or the Happy Little Elf.