Where Are You Christmas?
I love Christmas! Like, I start listening to holiday music in September. I have to force myself to wait to put up my tree until Thanksgiving. I burn Christmas candles year round. I literally get warm, fuzzy butterflies at the thought of bells jingling and glitter sparkling and fires crackling! Like, when I get sad I do Christmas stuff even in July. I can not emphasize enough how much my veins flow with hot cocoa, holly and Christmas cheer BUT I remember a time when that was not true. There was a year when I feared I had “crossed” the border of Toyland never to return again as the song warns.
It was right after college and things weren’t going great. I couldn’t find a job. I had to move back in with the parents. I didn’t have the huge group of friends that I had always enjoyed. I felt alone and disappointed with my life, myself and my future but Christmas was coming and I knew Christmas always cheered me up so I didn’t worry. September came and I wasn’t in the holiday spirit but it was still kind of hot so I figured by the time the temperatures cooled I’d be ready to deck the halls. Then it turned cold and stores put up holiday displays and I still felt nothing, if anything I may have felt worse. But then it happened we decorated the house like we always do while watching our traditional Christmas movies and enjoying the delicious smells of the holidays wafting about. I was certain this was going to fix my mood.
That night I came downstairs to the tree twinkling, the fireplace glowing and the music humming and I realized it was gone. I’d lost my Christmas spirit! I was sad and lonely and as far as I was concerned it didn’t need to be Christmas. I didn’t want it to be Christmas. It was like my first Christmas without Santa, something just felt missing.
I decided that it was EXACTLY what the song “Toyland” warned me of all those years ago. (“Childhood's joy land, mystic merry toyland. Once you pass its borders you can never return again.”) I made up my mind that I was now an adult, therefore, Christmas just couldn’t be magical. I mean we all know you can’t believe in magic and have a 401k. So, I accepted this new, deflated holiday situation as the norm. I enjoyed having family home, eating delicious foods and watching favorite movies for hours on end but I still felt that something was sad and missing but I just couldn’t put it into words.
Then, while out Christmas shopping the song “Where Are You Christmas?” (by Faith Hill) came on the radio and let me tell you… it hit me right in the heart! Someone put my lonely, sadness into words. It was this verse in particular that spoke to my soul. “Where are you Christmas? Do you remember the one you used to know? I'm not the same one. See what the time's done. Is that why you have let me go?” That was it! I felt that I had changed and wasn’t the same person and that Christmas left me behind because others seemed to still enjoy the holidays as always but I felt so lost and lonely.
So why am I telling you all of this? Because I know, for whatever reasons, some of you may not have the most cheery of Christmases this year. Maybe it’s been a tough year. Maybe one of loss or disappointment. Maybe you have a new reality for the holidays or a new location. Maybe for you, the end of 2019 is bringing anxiety and fear because you don’t know what the future holds.
In spite of all your concerns and apprehensions I want you to know that you haven’t crossed the border of Toyland and Christmas hasn’t let you go. I can’t promise that you will have some magical Christmas miracle like the Hallmark channel guarantees but I can promise that it will get better eventually but our hope isn’t resting on fairy lights and candy canes but a baby who came to save.
So, did I magically fix myself? No, but the next year when the holidays rolled around it was better. Not glitter in my veins better but better and the next year was even more so until one September I threw in my Hanson Christmas album and jammed with utter joy to the sounds of ‘Merry Christmas Baby” with out a hint of bitterness.
The truth is the magic of Christmas is found in love and love is a choice. Sometimes that choice is to keep moving even when we don’t feel like it. To sing the carols when we have a hard time believing the words. To spend time with family when we’d rather be alone in bed. To wrap your gifts with extra glittery paper because you aren’t quite sparkling yourself. Whatever little steps it takes to move you towards a better day are the steps you need because a better day (and a better Christmas) is coming. Remember, all of us go through mountains and valleys. Don’t think a bad season makes a bad life and I pray that the Lord will give you peace and comfort during this season. Cling to the Father and the Savior who came. A baby literally called Immanuel or “God with Us”.
So, as we celebrate this Christmas season we can hold fast to the true meaning and the One who never changes in spite of our circumstances. The One who overcame the world that has us so disheartened (John 16:33). The One who is the bringer of eternal hope. The Savior of the World!