A time for family gatherings, gift giving, and binge eating. The eggnog and wine will flow and the hearths will crackle with love and warmth. The traditions of games, stories, and the excitement that Santa Claus brings (even for the adults) can be a magical time for many. Those who are fortunate will leave work behind and take time to celebrate family and belonging.
Each Christmas season, as we celebrate with the usual glad tidings and evergreen cheer, we must not lose sight of the “reason for season”. The pre-Christian customs of holly wreaths, hanging mistletoes, and decorated trees are symbols of life amid the cold dead of the winter months (unless you live in warmer climates). The symbols serve as a promise of new life to come, namely the spring months when the land is fertile and the promise of abundance provides hope during this bleak time.
The Christmas season, for me, is dualistic in nature as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Lord, but also our eventual rebirth in His death and resurrection. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”. Christmas is a time that Christians around the world celebrate that the “Word became flesh and lived among us” and that God’s plan, as foretold by the prophets, was to bring us all, Jews and Gentiles, into his kingdom forever.
As we reflect upon the story of the young mother of Jesus and Joseph, her husband, searching for a vacant room in Bethlehem, aren’t we also searching for a place of our own? How do we fit into the big picture? It’s easy to take a narrow view and not realize that we’re all cogs in the big gear of life. Following the “everything happens for a reason” philosophy can be a difficult task, especially if we don’t except that not only did God have a plan for his son, but that he has a plan for each one of us. Like Mary and Joseph, our lives are part of that plan.
During the holiday season we miss the company of our family and friends who have preceded us in death. This is a tough time for many, including my own little family, as we navigate through the commercialism, the cynicism, and the general humbuggery that this season brings. We shall suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune, but we must also try to “be strong and courageous”, despite this bleak time.
‘Tis the season to be jolly, for the hope of Christmas is near, as is the promise of resurrection and reunification for us all!