It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The holidays are upon us, the lights are being strung, and the decor is being hung. My family has been doing the same thing for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for as long as I can remember. Church service on Christmas Eve at the same place where myself and my siblings were baptized. Dinner, presents, karaoke at my Aunt & Uncle’s house after. It’s like clockwork. It’s comforting. It’s steadfast. And this year, it’s changing.
Ever so slightly, but the decision has been recommended and agreed to by the matriarch of our family (my grandmother) to attend a different church this year. Despite the years of memories and commitment to returning to this church each Christmas, I support the decision.
Christmas, for me and my family, is the time of year when relatives from far and near gather together to share in a celebration of life and family and love. We put aside our stresses for a few days and enjoy each other’s company. We sing Christmas carols, share laughs over the White Elephant gift exchange, and indulge ourselves in good food and drink. Pretty standard.
But what also has become standard in our tradition is a nagging reminder of all that is wrong with the world. What tragic events occurred, how many people died, and who is to blame. For the past few years, the message during our church service could be described by words such as desolate, bleak, and downright depressing to name a few. It’s like the Pastor flipped on CNN in the middle of church as they ran a loop of all of the heinous crimes from the past year. It’s upsetting. And unsettling.
I am not saying that these events don’t require remembrance and discussion, but I guarantee I’ve already thought about, talked about, and prayed for the victims of these events throughout the year, and if I wasn’t personally impacted, a flashback on Christmas Eve isn’t necessarily warranted.
Call me naive, but for me, the holiday season is about Family, Love, and Hope. Hope that is derived from reflection on the past year and looking towards the future. Hope that understands the faults of our existence, but strives to be better moving forward. I have much to be thankful for, but I have been touched by loss, and I remember those during the holidays, just as those do who lost a loved one during a tragedy in the last year.
Christmas is a time for celebration, that doesn’t need to be shadowed by the dark cloud of evil that surrounds us each day in the news or in our lives. Christmas is about renewal. It’s about family. It’s about Hope. That’s what it meant to us as children, why must that change for us as adults?