Christmas is a magical time. The glow of Christmas lights, the scent of cookies in the oven, children’s laughter and happy smiles, friends and families gathering to share love and blessings, people going out of their way to help others.
Christmas may be stressful, but for many of us, the warmth that permeates and flows from this special holiday gives us a joy that marks Christmas as the best time of the year. I definitely fall into that camp, viewing Christmas as the highlight of the year and desperately trying to savor every moment of it, despite the breakneck speed at which it flies by.
That’s the trouble. The older I’ve gotten, the faster Christmas comes and goes. It’s like the ultimate tragedy—the time when I am happiest, when I have the most joy and comfort, passes quicker than I can say, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
I’m exaggerating a bit, but my emotional reaction to the end of Christmas is no joke. I used to have a terrible time going to bed at the end of Christmas day because I felt deeply the sense of loss I would experience when I woke the next day and it wasn’t Christmas anymore. Essentially, I didn’t want to end Christmas by going to sleep.
In recent years, my mom started the (fabulous) tradition of exchanging gifts with me for the twelve days of Christmas, which commence on December twenty-sixth. In addition to being extremely fun, this new tradition has been a blessing to me by easing my transition from the Christmas season to “normal” life.
But still, on the twelfth day of Christmas, I pause before opening my final gift, knowing it will be the last. I linger before going to bed that evening, saddened by the knowledge that there will be no gift waiting for me the next day.
Yet, it’s not actually the absence of a gift that bothers me. It’s the absence of something special to mark the day. Of a celebration to make me feel happier, to give me a bit of joy. It’s the reality of having to return to normal living, even though I admit that my regular life is incredibly blessed, happy, and easy.
Though I would normally categorize my feelings at the end of the Christmas season as sadness, not fear, I think that, deep down, fear is at the root.
I’m afraid of not having anything to lift my spirits. Perhaps in the recesses of my heart, I’m afraid I will never again experience the kind of joy that Christmas brings.
When I was reading the Christmas story in the days before December twenty-fifth, I came across Zechariah’s prophesy after his son John, the one chosen to prepare the way for Jesus, was born. (In her guest post the week before Christmas, Emily Conrad also referenced a terrific fear-warrior verse from that prophesy.)
…because of the tender mercy of God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1:78-79
The beauty and truth of this passage struck me as a vital reminder. Despite the fallenness of our world, the light of Christmas still exists. We can see it in those children’s smiles, feel it in a thoughtful gift, in the warmth of our hearts as we sing “Silent Night,” light candles, or gaze on a nativity scene.
The sunrise that visited us that first Christmas is why Christmas is still so special, why it changes people.
Because He changed everything.
Christian singer Ginny Owens recorded a song I can completely relate to called, “Christmas All the Time.” She sings of, as a child, dreaming that Christmas could last all the time—exactly my dream, as well. And it sounds like for both of us, that dream is still very real.
But as she shares in that song, because of Christmas, because of the Christ Child and what He would do for us, we can and do have Christmas all the time. We have a guarantee of feeling Christmas joy again, even all year through.
After the shepherds that first Christmas heard the angels and saw the Savior of the world come to Earth, they didn’t return home depressed because the joy and happiness was over. They returned “glorifying and praising God” (Luke 2:20).
Yes, they had gotten to see remarkable things that we haven’t—a multitude of angels in the heavens, God incarnate as a baby.
But we have still more reason to praise, more reason for joy.
We have that baby, grown into a man who lived the perfect life we couldn’t. We have Him dying on a cross to pay the penalty we couldn’t pay. And we have Jesus Christ rising from the dead and ascending into heaven to prepare a place for us in the glory we could never earn.
Don’t return to the doldrums of daily living today or after any special time that you cherish. Be changed by it as the shepherds were. Praise and glorify and celebrate with no end because our eternal life has already begun.
For we have the sunrise giving light to us even in the shadow of death. That light guides our feet into the way of peace, where there is no darkness and there is no fear.
The Light of Christmas will never die.
Do you ever feel sadness after a special time or event? Do you wish those joyous feelings would stay forever or do you fear returning to life without them? Please join the conversation!