Last night I was thinking, driving home in the dark, Christmas lights lining the road. I was thinking, “Christmas would be terrible without Jesus.”
You see, for me, Christmas is a season of grief. I lost a baby, my brother and my grandmother in the month of December. At eight I sat on a couch in a funeral home lobby the night before Christmas Eve feeling guilty for thinking about presents. At 21 I listened to Christmas carols in the car on the way to my brother’s viewing. And at 26 I miscarried in a cab passing the Rockefeller Center tree.
Christmastime is the worst.
It’s cold and rainy outside. The sun goes down at like 5 o’clock. You have to go to parties where you don’t really know everybody and wear festive sweaters and engage in small talk (alas) while everyone feasts on gluten-y and dairy-laden delights.
Luckily, there’s Jesus.
Jesus in me, His Spirit filling and comforting. Jesus in my kids laughing. Jesus in my church, giving. Jesus in the carols playing in my car. Jesus in the list of people I’ll buy presents. Jesus in the ornaments on my tree—memories and gifts.
For me, Christmas is a time to remember that even in the dark, even when life is hard and people are weird and all the food has gluten, God is with us. He’s light and unconditional love, joy and peace.
In the days before Christmas I don’t struggle to feel the tension of Advent, the pain of waiting for rescue and the joy of the Spirit’s presence. I feel that tension every day.
But at Christmas, tiny lights in a sea of dark, a handful of real belly laughs at a party with friends, and gifts—graces—for and from the ones we love serve as beautiful megaphones through which I hear the Advent chorus:
God is coming! God is here! God is coming…