“No-one should be sad or alone on Christmas.”
This is lovely in theory but what does it really mean?
From as early as mid-November we begin to spread the joy of Christmas. Be it through Christmas songs or the twinkly lights or the numerous Christmas movies you’ll find on Netflix (other providers are available). Then as we enter December we have advent calendars, whether it’s a traditional chocolate calendar or something more extravagant, maybe with toys or alcohol or cheese. Then we have elf on the shelf, with the need to go bigger and better each day, nevermind each year. We have the Christmas experiences, in which you can visit any number of the characters of Christmas in new and exciting ways. Finally the only things left are the school events, the Christmas carols, the Christmas markets and all the parties. All there to help make the magic of Christmas come alive. Christmas is no longer a day but a season.
With all that pressure it is a wonder anyone has the time or energy for Christmas joy or even the day itself. Yet we are expected to enter the “season” skipping and dancing. Then once we have arrived there we need to repress any negative feelings we have.
“You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town”
You will most probably recognise these song lyrics from a well known Christmas song. You will have heard them a million times on loop in the shops and maybe even at home, but I do worry what kind of message these lyrics give out if in the run up to Christmas we had better not cry because if we do Santa may not come.
Now before someone worries I’m over sensitive (or a “snowflake”) I’m not saying that we should stop playing this music but just to become aware of the types of messages we are hearing at this time. Maybe even recognising (me included) the types of messages we give to our children about the types of emotions we should be expressing in the run up to Christmas.
For Christians the Nativity story is such an important part to Christmas but I am going to go to say for even those who do not believe they have the opportunity to interact with something that is other than full of joy at Christmas. Jesus’ birth and Mary’s journey is far from full of just wonder and delight and below is a picture of some of the words in Luke’s Gospel that represent the emotions of those people. Troubled and fear are far from the emotions we would want to be prevalent at Christmas.
As children we are taught that at Christmas miracles happen for everyone on earth. For those little ones we tend airbrush out the nitty, gritty, uncomfortable parts of Christmas in the hope that they are protected.
As a challenge to all I ask that this Christmas “season” you are honest with someone about your real emotions at that time. Open up, and let children know that sometimes it is okay to be sad at Christmas time, that sometimes twinkle lights and a man in a red suit doesn’t take all the pain away. And rather than straight away looking for ways to solve that pain and hurt, that we show them that to hurt for a little while before moving on is just as okay. That sometimes we can pray, or light a candle, or receive a hug, or whatever you choose to do in those moments, and the pain and hurt doesn’t necessarily magically disappear but that those small acts can possibly help upon a journey to true joy and happiness this Christmas time.
Merry Christmas one and all and I pray that your Christmas is one filled with the knowledge that Jesus came as a baby for you.