Home > Uncategorized > It’s that time of year again

It’s that time of year again

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. With the kids jingle belling and everyone telling you “Be a good cheer”. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s the hap-happiest season of all. With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings when friends come to call. It’s the hap-happiest season of all.

Um no. It’s that time of year all right. It’s the time when everyone appears to have happy families. It’s the time of year when I most face my own reality and broken family. If I want to, I do well most of the year in making references to my family. There are many wonderful aspects. I love them dearly. I have some good memories. But inevitably the awkwardness begins.

So are you going home for Christmas, Elizabeth?

No, I’m staying put.

Oh — where does your family live?

About an hour and a half away.

That’s right. A bus ride away and I’m in Toronto for Christmas. For the past eight years, I have not gone home for Christmas. The close homeschooling family picture that I often paint diminishes this time of year. The pieces no longer make sense. These are inevitable conversations. These are hated conversations. I have limited them to once season of the year.

Not everyone needs to know my story. But every year I wrestle with how do I answer these questions? Something just doesn’t fit. I’ve learned to answer these questions matter of factly so as to get the conversation diverted as quickly as possible. But there is pain inside. Great pain. Pain I try not to let people see. Even eight years later.

So let me be proactive. I am not going home for christmas. I will not see my parents or my siblings. I do not like Christmas. it is a difficult time. I’m tempted to hop on a plane and go to Cuba or something to escape all the reminders of how it is not the most wonderful time of the year. In fact, this time of the year sucks. I have good friends and relatives who have brought joy and laughter into the pain. But it is still hard. I still hate it when December 1 roles around. It is not the most wonderful time of the year.

But then…

… was the birth of Christ?

Surely something spectacular happened that night. Angels announced it. Kings came from far. God became incarnate. So that hope, healing and salvation could come. So that our relationships with God and others could be restored and forgiveness granted. This IS wonderful.

But a young girl betrothed and pregnant. As her belly grew, I wonder how many people bought the story that she became pregnant by the holy spirit or that she was a virgin. If a youth told me that today, I don’t know how I would respond. Joseph didn’t want to disgrace her, being a righteous man. Disgrace or hand her over to cruel punishment with being pregnant out of wedlock. An angel appeared to him to tell him not to be afraid. But did doubt creep in his mind as his buddies noted a very pregnant fiancee.

Then a long donkey ride very pregnant. I don’t think pregnancy or donkey rides are all that comfortable – both? and for such a long time? the most wonderful time of the year?

And then the son of God is about to be born and no one can find a decent place for him to be born. How’s that for hospitality. I can find room for an awful lot of stuff. And easily the Christ-child takes second-spot.

the most wonderful time of the year was when the son of God was born into a stinky stable in the midst of animals. If you’ve ever been in a barn, you can easily challenge the santized nativity scene pictures we are so accustomed to. Talk about gross. I wouldn’t want to sleep there, let alone have a baby. And that was the best that could be offered to the King of Kings.

and then there was this King Herod dude. Jealous of an infant. So he killed all the boys under the age of 2 just to make sure that no one would usurp his kingdom.

And if homelessness was not enough at birth – the God-man became a refugee before he reached the age of 2. He had to hang out in a foreign country because his life was sought. Most wonderful time of the year?

All the things I have come to loathe about Christmas – are not part of Christmas. Christmas isn’t this perfect time of constant happiness and laughter. Christmas is messy, stinky, unsanitary and risky. Christmas isn’t this time when we are one big happy family and life is wonderful. Christmas is homelessness and rejection and fear and estrangement.

But Christmas is more. Light came into the world that night. In the stable, surrounded in manure. Hope – deep hope – of life beyond the stink and the mire. Joy that comes only from knowing God through His son. Peace with God as the God-man reconciles us. Peace that the world cannot give – but a homeless baby whisked away because of a death threat – brings peace, peace that we cannot understand or fathom.

So it’s that time of year again. I’m not pretending it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Instead, I am embracing it for what it is – a night when light entered our darkness.

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  1. John Sullivan
    December 10, 2013 at 8:20 am

    I understand Elizabeth! I see if I read your post correctly that you were “home schooled”. I personally have a prejudice against it thinking that children should be exposed to the larger community, Christian or not. That said, trusting you as I do for your integrity, it would be interesting for others as well to hear your views pro and con, excluding the unfortunate experiences that might have resulted to you personally. In the meantime a Blessed Christmas to you which is better than a Merry one!

    • December 11, 2013 at 12:23 am

      Ah – a post on homeschooling. That I can do! It’s actually something that has been in conversations recently. Thank you too for your kind words and for the wishes for a blessed Christmas – indeed, blessed is better than merry… in fact, there can be blessings in the unmerry! This post was a result of thinking about the unmerry aspects of Christmas and realizing in a deeper way what our Lord went through. God is good. As Aslan says – Good, though not safe.

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