My intention was to write an entire article about how it is ok to be grumpy about Christmas. And although that is still the general idea of this entry, I found I am not able to represent the mindset of someone who does not enjoy Christmas. I LOVE Christmas. And I mean really love Christmas. I decorate too much too early, listen to the music, bake the cookies, watch the movies, read the stories, wear the ugly sweaters, put ribbon on EVERY gift under the tree- and I thoroughly love every moment of it. I have had a lot difficulty allowing anything grumpy to be a part of Christmas time.
In fact, I am embarrassed to admit, I was in my 20’s before I realized not everyone felt excited about “the most wonderful time of the year”. And I am even more embarrassed to admit that I was much older before I realized that it was ok for others to not make merry at Christmas time. But now I have come to realize that there is a great deal of merit to adding a little grumpy to Christmas.
Many people, including many people I love dearly, do not like Christmas at all. They feel this way for many different reasons. Some simply do not practice the Christmas holiday (for either religious or secular reasons). Some find the holiday season triggers bad memories of loss, conflict, and disappointed expectations. There are people who rebel against the overwhelming pressure and obligation this season seems to bring. (This, of course, is not just a little ironic as it is a time of year to celebrate a Messiah- the Savior that offers freedom and grace- but instead it has become a time to amp up expectations and judgments.) But, for the most part I found that while some people are truly anti-Christmas, the majority of people simply have mixed feelings about the holiday.
For (as said above) an embarrassing long time I was rather tiresome in my view that people who did not like Christmas were merely unaware that Christmas is wonderful and should be enjoyed by all. This concept was reinforced by the countless iterations of A Christmas Carol, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life. I believed that once a grumpy-Grinchy-Scrooge is made aware of the joy of Christmas, they miraculously become a holly jolly soul. My oversimplification of these stories meant I lost the concept that a selfish soul may find joy in generosity and turned it into a shallow judgement against those who did not find unadulterated happiness in the Christmas season.
Only after finally listening to those around me and allowing myself to ask the question- “Is there something missing from Christmas when I refuse to allow any “grumpiness” in it?”- did I truly find some of the depth that had been missing from my Christmas experiences.
After all the Christmas story itself is fraught with so much heartache and unpleasantness that to ignore it is a disservice to what took place. The story from Luke 1-2 and Matthew 2 becomes far more real and relevant when the inherent hardships are allowed to come through in the telling. The story has turmoil in the relationship between Mary and Joseph, isolation for Mary, hardship and rejection for a refugee couple, angels that invoke fear even as they bring messages of peace, there is even murder and betrayal by the king at the news of Jesus' birth. The story of Christmas is much more beautiful because of the unpleasant parts that took place- not in the absence of them.
And in realizing this deeper understanding of the Christmas story I also found the advent season has taken on a new meaning for me. Advent is a time of reflection on the hope, peace, joy and love that Jesus brought through his birth, life, death, and resurrection. However those elements do not exist because the dark parts have been eliminated- (or merely ignored). Rather hope, peace, joy and love are so much more pronounced because of the sorrow and pain that exist in our lives. By allowing the goodness of Christ's birth to be a light in the dark parts I have found a greater depth to the season of Christmas. It has become more reality than ever before for me. And by allowing a little "grumpy" in my Christmas I have brought an increase in joy to be found this time of year.
Meet the Pasotr
Pastor Heather and her family have been a part of the Cold Lake Community since December 2006 and she has been the pastor at Community Baptist Church since September 2017.