It’s Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas!
If you’re not feeling it, however, I understand. The holidays are rough.
Painful rifts mean family members aren’t talking. Traveling is miserable. Christmas carols are ridiculously cheerful. People can’t find work. Parts of the country are slammed with storms. Christmas just isn’t the same without family and friends who have passed. A mid-week Christmas means lots of people can’t travel home. Actively deployed service members are in harm’s way. Firefighters and police officers respond to fires and domestic disputes. Loved ones are sick, and hospitalized. If today or tomorrow is your day to receive chemo treatment, then you go to the clinic. Chronic pain sufferers wake up feeling lousy, as usual. Homeless people wake up homeless. People suffering from mental illness don’t get a reprieve. Christmas is messy.
Well, life is messy for 364 days of the year. It’s just not supposed to be messy on Christmas, right? We’ve bought into this myth big time; it’s what the ads show, and the Christmas movies, the cards, and the Christmas carols. But here’s the real news: Christmas day is messy, too. The tradition started off that way; Mary was an unwed, pregnant teen. She could have been stoned for this. Joseph married her, probably enduring ridicule. They traveled to Bethlehem. Now, all you moms out there, surely you remember what doing anything is like in your eighth and ninth month of pregnancy? It’s miserable. Whether or not the couple settled in a stable, or in somebody’s house, the point remains that they had to find somewhere to stay, and Mary gave birth away from home. It’s the Christmas story, and we are celebrating Christmas. And it’s messy.
The weather is crummy in some parts of the country, but nice in others. It’s summer south of the equator. Not all traveling compatriots make you want to scream; some people trade seats on the plane so you and your kids can sit together. The hospital and clinic staffs are cheerful. Transportation crews are working extended hours in lousy conditions, plowing, and re-wiring power lines. You don’t have to listen to chipper carols if you don’t want to, there’s plenty of Christmas music performed in the Blues style. Or you can choose to listen to Christmas music from another culture. Family members can pick up the phone, or email, Skype, or write a note, or light a candle in memory of a loved one, or just think about someone.
It’s Christmas. Mary nursed her baby, and she and Joseph provided the best home they could for their infant. They relied on strangers for help. They persevered, were resourceful, and probably found some humor in the situation. While “tenacity” may not be the word you hear in carols, it’s the real deal. Messy, but real.
Sending you my very best on this Messy Christmas, everybody.
December 24, 2013