Our 11-year-old asked a question of me a few days back which I would have normally thrown into my memory as one of the many ponderings of a child on any given day. However, on this particular day, it cut deeper than I chose to admit.
“Mom, do you think our home has the Christmas spirit?”
I knew exactly what she meant. We are still in the midst of putting our home back together after moving everything downstairs, so our home is a mess. Plus, is it me, or did Christmas came much faster this year? We talked about a tree, but we never actually got around to buying it. Nor did we hang our garland or pull out the nativity set. I bought our first Christmas present four days ago; I have yet to wrap anything. Consequently, our home doesn’t look very “Christmas-y” to her; it just looks like it would look on any other day—at least, for the last month.
Of course, the tree, etc., has little to do with my own celebration of this season. For me, those are just symbols of a change in the way the house looks. My personal traditions involve listening to Christmas music (both secular and Christian), and watching “The Nativity Story” on Christmas Eve.
But I also struggle during this time of year. And this year in particular I write during a time where there seems to be little in the world that is Christmas-y. Even in a country that purports Christ as its foundation, I witness so much of life that is un-Christian. Perhaps Nikki and the City summed it up best for me in her blog post, “Sometimes it’s Hard Being Black and Christian.” As my friend Bobbie prayed, we knew the last days were upon us, but we never saw it like this.
More personally, I attended two funerals this past week. Supporting my friends through their losses took me speedily to my own place of pain—my father’s battle with cancer during this same season, a battle he lost in the first month of the new year.
I know that I am not alone. And so I write to encourage others as I encourage myself. Wherever these days find you, know that there is still hope because there is Jesus. Our hope cannot rest in the promises of this world; too often, we are let down and left to sift through the confusion and despair. Once hope is lost, our “sifting” process can take us into some dangerous situations.
‘Oh, holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray,
Cast out our sins and enter in, be born to us this day.
We hear the Christmas angels, the great glad tidings tell;
Oh, come to us, abide with us, oh Lord, Emmanuel.’
(from the song “Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem”)
Emmanuel, i.e., God with us. Do we have the Christmas spirit in our home? Yes, we absolutely do. Merry Christmas to you.