High River United Church of High River, Alberta
        

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20
Dec

I Love the Christmas Season; It's Christmas Day I Hate!

Posted by on in Adventures in Faith & Family
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“I love the Christmas season; it’s Christmas Day I hate.” So said one of the youth in our congregation. An interesting statement, and one that perhaps others of us might echo.

 

There is something amazing about this season, when we focus on and celebrate love and generousity and joy. Not knowing the actual date of Jesus’ birth, the early Christians chose the time of the Winter Solstice, the season with the longest nights and shortest amount of daylight, to celebrate the coming of Jesus, the Light of the World.

 

One can easily imagine how profound the celebration of Christ’s birth, the festivity welcoming the Light, was in a time before electric light and power grids. Yet, today, even with the ability to flip a switch and have all the light we want, there is something that touches our souls as we celebrate this season of Christmas. In the midst of our sometimes chaotic, too often stressed lives, the words of the angels sing to our hearts, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace to all people!”

 

We need this season to remind us that there is light and hope and possibility. We need the feelings of generousity and gratitude evoked by this season. We need the delight that is inspired by Christmas lights lighting up the night. We need the wonder of children’s voices singing Christmas songs. We need the tenderness that comes with a gift from someone special. We need all these gifts that come with the season.

 

But more than all this, we need the story of Jesus, which is a story of hope coming in the midst of oppression and violence, love emerging in the most unlikely place – a stable, and joy transcending the poverty, stress, and awkwardness of the whole situation of Jesus’ birth.

 

So we need this season, this time that invites us to let our spirits sink into new depths of our relationship with God, as we ponder the gift of Jesus’ birth.

 

“I love the Christmas season; it’s Christmas Day I hate.” We need this season; we may love this season, but there also may be some aspects of it that we hate. It might be Christmas Day itself. I think this young person didn’t like having to deal with family dynamics on Christmas Day, and he didn’t like the fact that with the conclusion of the 25th, it was all over – the special wonder, love, and delight that this season brings.

 

There might be some aspect of Christmas that you don’t like – that you even would say you hate! I think for me it is all the expectations that get loaded on to the season, and how we try to do in a couple of weeks things we could do all year long. Suddenly in this month, there are expectations that we gather with family and friends. We could have gathered with some of these people at other times of year and yet we haven’t.   I hate the comment, “I’ll make sure to invite you over this summer, so we can visit more than once a year,” because both the person saying it and the person hearing it know it won’t happen and next Christmas we’ll be saying the same thing again.

 

You’ll have your own thing that bothers you about Christmas, that disturbs you. So what do we do with this frustration? It just adds stress to a season that tends to be overloaded with stress already, so how do we do something about it?

 

We can draw on the wisdom of our spiritual practices to help us deal with those things we hate about the holidays. Here’s a spiritual approach that I take:

 

First, I imagine the situation and, in my imagining, I invite God’s wisdom to help me.

Then I offer myself options in my imagining:

a. I imagine never doing the particular thing again. For example, what if I just didn’t get together with all the relatives and friends that suddenly want to visit at Christmas time? As I imagine that, I consider how I feel about that response.

 

b. Then I imagine changing it up in some way. For example, I might just declare that I’m not attending family and friend’s gatherings in December, but will invite everyone over in January (or July.) I consider how that response feels in my body and spirit.

 

c. Then I imagine just continuing on the same way as now, and consider how that truly feels.

 

The other spiritual practice I bring to my considerations is gratitude. I think of the situation that evokes frustration and stress, and ponder what in that situation I can be grateful for. If there is nothing, then that tells me something about my own exhaustion or the real problem with continuing to put myself in that situation.

 

The thing is – what frustrates us and stresses us the most probably doesn’t have anything to do with what is most important about Christmas. The frustrations and stresses probably come as a result of the cultural and family practices that have been added to Christmas.

 

          If there is nothing you can find to be grateful for about a situation that stresses you,

          if imagining never doing it again only brings relief and no sense of sadness,

                then consider ending the practice, or at least moving it to another time of year.

 

And, if it is your child who is saying to you that they “hate” something about Christmas, pay attention. Don’t immediately tell them they shouldn’t say that. Take time to ponder why they might have said it. There is probably wisdom for your whole family in their declaration.

 

For me, while I hate hearing people say we’ll get together in summer even though we all know it won’t happen, I’d still rather gather with them once a year, instead of never seeing them. I can find a great deal of gratitude for the once-a-year connection. So that’s my answer.

 

In the end, Christmas is about Christ. It is about welcoming all the wonder, hope and possibility that came in that baby in a manger. Nothing must get in the way of the delight, the gratitude, and the wonder. Nothing must keep us from hearing the angels singing.

 

We need the Christmas season, to remind us of the compassion, generousity and joy with which we are meant to live.

 

May your heart sing this Christmas with the blessings of the Christ Child!

May you find that moment when Christ is born again in your life, and all of the stress and chaos melt away.

December 20, 2018                              ©Susan Lukey 2018

 

 

 

 

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123 MacLeod Trail S.W. High River, Alberta.

(403) 652-3168

hruc@telus.net

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