I’ll be honest, most of the time I love Christmas. It is, after all, the most wonderful time of the year.
But the Christmases of my distant memory are often haunted with darkness and loneliness—a desperate longing unmet.
Perhaps that’s why I work so hard to make Christmas full and bright, as much for my kids as for my husband and me. A celebration of all the good, happy, pretty things.
Red and green. Gold and silver.
Polished up kids, on the best behavior.
Shiny packages, bright with promise.
For the most part, and for most December 25ths, the magic glitter of Christmas works. But any one day can’t live up to the burden consistently and it frays at the edges, threatening to rip open from the pressure of little sleep, excess sugar, and packing in too much in too little time with too many people.
It’s a wonder we ever make it through without falling through a chasm—a la Griswold Christmas.
But when the ground falls away underneath me, it always catches me off guard, and I land hard on the bottom, the steep walls shadowing the light. Maybe the reason the plummet is made all the harder is because of the promise, the expectations.
Now I’ve never sent ice crashing through my neighbor’s windows or shorted out an entire block with my Christmas lights, but I wonder how much I contributed to the fraying. If I can do anything to prevent the fall in future years.
Is my desire for a perfect North Pole experience what hacks at the fabric of December? Or am I missing the point—that somewhere in the fraying and falling there’s something good, a hidden purpose?
All the questions trickle down through the chasm, and I’m still at a loss. I simply don’t know.
The reality isn’t what Christmas is supposed to be. I suspect I’m missing something, perhaps a lot. That I am somehow looking through a window fogged dark. A distorted reality. I stretch, reaching and praying for the real Christmas that is whispered about in the tinsel and lights.
And it makes me hate Christmas. Or at least the one sold in the songs.
Christmas simply reminds me of the things I desire but I can’t have. But the feeling of Christmas, that place of peace and joy is out there and so I continue to hope. To plan. To dream. To trust that I will get there . . . even if it isn’t on this side of death.