Bad Christmases

If you see the title, yes, it’s plural. I don’t think I have had a good Christmas since 2017 or maybe even 2016. Last year was the pandemic, race riots, a contentious American presidential election, and no real hope in sight. In 2019, I was at the tail end of getting a dental implant and new permanent crown. The end was in sight but I was dreading eating with a gap in upper left row. In 2018, I had a terrific Christmas after being accidentally not invited to the church Christmas party for volunteers – it was the one event I was looking forward to all year.

This year, I am much more cynical and want to break something every time I hear the song that begins: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” How can it be? Let’s review some of 2021’s events: we have a career politician in the White House trying to ram through decrees that keep triggering the Law of Unintended Consequences and pushback from ALL sides. We have 2 variants of the Covid-19 floating around. There is a Crime-athon (one of my favorite Christian bands Skillet’s lead singer John Cooper’s words) in California and all over the nation — all because we listened to the Defund the Police movement. Oh, and there is a local sanitation worker work stoppage because of union disputes.

Sigh. I think I speak The Truth – yes, the absolute truth, not just “my” truth or “your” truth the following two points:

  1. Less police, more crimes
  2. Don’t judge a group by a few bad people.

So what does this have to do with Christmas? It’s because all around us, we are trying to drum up the good feelings that ought to surround this season. We all want to feel great because we have built it up from the nostalgia we see on TV or the movies – Home Alone, A Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th Street, and of course, It’s a Wonderful Life.

I wrote last year this post last year called Christmas Fail? where I documented some of failed Christmases – no food, empty chairs, and bad memories. In 2018, I wrote another post called Renewing Wonder. In all these posts, I point out the emptiness of those feelings and not to trust in those feelings. Furthermore, I realized that I can guarantee with certainty one of the following:

  1. There will be at least one argument. (The likelihood increases with alcohol.)
  2. There will be at least one death in the family – one empty chair.
  3. Someone will be disappointed that they did not get the gift they wanted.
  4. December 26 arrives.

If everything above sounds terrible, why bother celebrating Christmas at all? Why not do a “Christmas with the Kranks?” This Christmas-inspired movie is actually based on a book written by John Grisham – he of the legal thrillers The Client, Runaway Jury… In this book/movie, there is a couple – the Kranks (Tim Allen and Jaime Lee Curtis in the movie) who decides to skip the whole commercialized Christmas celebration – the ornate wreaths, the expensive cards, and the Christmas lights so the block can win the Christmas lights competition. When the Kranks’ decision is made known, the whole town is outraged instead of happy that they will not take part in a commercialized Christmas which means no dollars for them. The Kranks are adamant until they get a last minute call from their daughter who is returning home from overseas with a new fiance and they want the whole “American” Christmas experience. The Kranks realized they have to reverse their decision and scramble to get everything ready for their daughter at the last minute. You’ll have to watch the movie but the point is the same: why not just skip Christmas and skip town?

To quote yet another Christmas movie – my favorite – A Charlie Brown Christmas, ” Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” Why, yes, someone does:

 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Luke 2:9-14

Christmas is not about my feelings. It is not even about my peace. It’s God’s peace.

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