Advent Day 13: Bad Holiday

This year I'm blogging through Advent season. The goal is to put up a shorter post every day in December on topics related to the holiday, and I'd like to toy with some different media (music, poetry, art). I may not stay faithful to the format, we'll see, but I'd thank you to come along on the journey with me anyway. I hope this can enhance your Christmas experience as I'm sure it will mine.

Given that it's Christmastime I wish I had something a little peppier to say tonight but unfortunately I'm in a bit of a funk. The lights seem a little dimmer, the carols less cheery. It's hard. It's a hard time.

The holidays have a funny way of amplifying our feelings. Pleasantness becomes elation. Mopiness becomes angst. Sadness becomes depression. I'm such a Christmas fan I don't like to admit it but the whole thing is a bit of a double-edged sword. Sure, there's egg nog and claymation TV specials but there are also statistically significant increases in alcohol intake and suicide during the holidays.

Why might that be? My guess is it has something to do with expectation. When Thanksgiving goes badly, for instance, it's not just another bad day. It's a ruined holiday. We set the bar higher on those days which makes the disappointment we experience when things go wrong all the more potent.

I had one of those Thanksgivings this year. I don't need to go into it but suffice it to say I'm still recovering. I feel wounded, on a soul-level, because it's not as if we just botched a Thursday dinner. We couldn't pull it together for Thanksgiving. Geesh.

I understand this is not what the holidays are about. We're supposed to be more grateful during this season, not mopier about the junk in our lives. On the other hand, there's nothing more miserable than being miserable when no one else seems to be, when everything is light and festive and everyone expects you to be too.

Still, Advent is about making light. About candles, about tree lights, about the Light of the world who came down to rescue the broken ones. It's not as if we're ignoring or compartmentalizing the darkness; we're being honest about it but deciding to abide in the light. And sometimes we can't do that on our own.

We need hope. Hope in a story that does not ignore the darkness but perseveres in spite of it. Hope in a God who would die to demonstrate His love. Hope that tomorrow might be better, but even if it's not, God will still be good. 

It's hard though. Wicked hard.

Here's to a better Christmas.


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