“It just doesn’t feel like Christmas.” That is a common refrain that I have been hearing, and saying, this year. Although it’s hardly rare to hear that statement any year, I think that it is epically true this year. For most of us, this year has been a blur. You could tell me that it is still March, and I would believe you. We all have missed out on much this year. The normal, yearly moments that mark the passage of a year (such as birthdays, graduations, vacations, holidays) have come and gone without much fanfare. Nothing about this year has been normal, and quite frankly, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas.
Christmas should be a time of merriment and joy, a time of celebrations and parties, a time of hugs and reaching out to help others. That’s just not in the cards for most of us this year. Every plan and tradition is marred with the question of safety. I think that we’re all tired of asking that question. We want to throw caution to the wind and get our lives back to normal. The loss of normalcy has been eating at us for months, and the frustration is coming to a head. We are all at least a little downtrodden that this Christmas simply is not as it should be, nor as we want it to be.
My mind goes back to that first Christmas. You know, the one where Christ put on flesh and took residence in this world as the baby born in the manger. Nothing about that Christmas was as it should have been. This was the single most important birth in the history of the world. While we celebrate Christmas with pomp and circumstance every year, there was none for Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. This was not a birth fitting of a king, let alone the king of kings. A little later on, some lowly shepherds and the wisemen would come but not on that night. There sat Mary, Joseph, and the Messiah all alone because there was no room for them in the inn. That night was not it should have been, but out of those circumstances, God did his greatest work. Because of that night, the world would never be the same.
It’s ok to not be ok with the way things are this year. It’s ok to be frustrated and sad. It’s ok if you’re not feeling as joyful and jovial as you normally do this time of year. It’s been a hard year, and for a lot of us, the hardest year of our lives. Disappointment and dissatisfaction have left us worn out. We’re all tired: physically, mentally, and spiritually. When you’re battling those emotions, remember that first Christmas. Remember how God made much out of the “not right.” Remember that circumstances do not determine the effectiveness of God’s love. God’s greatest work started in a lowly stable, where the savior of the world was placed in a manger. God can do much with little. He can turn the darkest night into the brightest morning. That’s the hope we need to cling to as we struggle through Christmas this year. Morning is coming.