A Letter To Those Grieving At Christmastime
File this under lessons learned.
Don’t mention Christmas songs you don’t like on social media unless you want to make some people very angry.
That sounds quite silly, because, really? Who gets angry because someone doesn’t like a song even if it’s your very favorite ever in the whole wide world?
We could extend this lesson to Christmas movies. I’m like the Chihuahua of Christmas movie watchers: I only have the desire to love a few in my world.
There is one particular movie that everyone but me seems to adore. For me, one viewing was enough for one lifetime. This is a fact I must keep hidden under a bushel lest I receive scorn for not loving someone’s beloved Yuletide flick.
Recently there was a great controversy stirred because several radio stations decided not to play one particular song in their Christmas rotation. Frankly, the song had little to nothing to do with Christmas, anyway. But as a result of the ban, people across the land were powerfully offended.
The moral of these stories is that art or media that is dear to our heart can rise to the level of the sacred in our minds. Multiply that by the effect that a sentimental season such as Christmas has upon us, and you raise the level of potential offense to even greater heights.
Frankly, I get it. I don’t much want to hear you besmirch the great songs that sing joy into my heart.
Let’s transition this into my purpose for writing this today. I have walked through the valley of understanding how grief can impact my response to holidays.
My mother died at Thanksgiving time, and to this day, I find that I barely tolerate what should be a day of gratitude and gluttony.
Christmas can be a lousy time of the year for those who are grieving.
While I’ve dealt with this topic at length at speaking engagements, let me here offer just one simple idea for restoring your joy on a blue day.
In his rendering of the Advent narrative, John said, at the beginning of his book, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”
The truth here is simple but profound. There is no dark place that can stay dark when we allow Jesus to enter in. I’m not merely implying that we lay on a bed in a darkened room crying and pleading for help.
Rather, the light comes when we let it in.
Go to a church service. Many offer a “Blue Christmas” service for those who are struggling with pain.
Go to Christmas light displays.
Decorate, even if it’s just a simple, tiny, Charlie Brown tree.
Go to your local coffee shop and get caffeinated to the sounds of jazzy seasonal songs.
Just do it. The dark cannot stay dark when you let the light in.
You will still hurt, you will still grieve, and you will continue to feel lost in a world that has changed beyond your ability to cope. But when Jesus enters, hope arrives. Lights go on.
The darkness is hopeless to fight the arrival of the light of the world.