Friday, December 9, 2016

Doing Christmas This Year

I love Christmas.  I break most of the Advent rules annually by listening to Christmas music right after Halloween, and decorating for Christmas right after Thanksgiving.  I love seeing the lights and often wish the season could last all year long.

But not this year.

Everything in me wants to ignore Christmas.  Cancel it.  Not the Incarnation, of course.  Jesus is coming regardless of whether we acknowledge him or not.  But the festivities and traditions I could easily do without.  The only reason I am doing Christmas at all this year is because I have 3 kids who need and deserve normalcy.  The world has changed and uncertainty reigns.  I am dreading 2017.  I honestly think we're on the precipice of life morphing into something we don't want to experience in ways that will be largely out of our control.  My gut says at this time next year we won't even have the luxury of pretending like everything is normal or ok.  So for now, we have one more Christmas season to enjoy and to that extent, I am going through the motions and trying to do the usual things, hoping that I'm somehow successfully hiding my deep fears about the future from my kids.

But one thing I have decided to not do this year is Christmas cards.  Every year of my adult life I have sent Christmas cards.  Since we got married, I've included a letter about our year.  Every year when we pull out the boxes of decorations, I'll reread some of the letters from years past (14 and counting now), and I'm thankful to have this record of our lives captured in a page or page and a half.

This year, I don't even know what to say.  I'm not interested in feigning hope that I genuinely don't feel.  The dollars we spend on the cards and printing and postage feels overwhelming, and so I'm going to donate what we would've spent to organizations that might actually be our best hope at resisting the evil that is preparing to ru(i)n our country.  A part of me feels like I should suck it up and do the cards; put on the hopeful face, say the right things.  But maybe because I'm already doing that on the daily for my kids, it makes me just have no energy left to do it for grown ups too.  That's just honest.  And this is one of my struggles of the past month: how much do I get to feel my feelings?  With all the rhetoric about accepting the results and mending divisions and coming together - under normal circumstances in a normal democracy, that's what we would do.  But this year is not normal, and the stakes are so much more dire, the consequences already harming people on a daily basis.

Advent is a season of hope.  My hope is in God, and in our ability to follow the One who was, and who is, and who is to come.  But having that hope doesn't mean that lived existence will be a-ok.  My instincts, and understanding of history, tell me that we're about to go into a really dark time.  And its going to be really hard for awhile.  We are not the first people to live through a time such as this, but what we know from others who have lived through it is it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better.  And I'm just not in a place to do anything but be honest about that.  Not exactly the message one puts on a festive holiday missive.

So no Christmas cards this year.  I'm breaking this normal routine in acknowledgement that this is just not normal anymore.  My friends and family are constantly in my prayers, and right now, that is all I can do.  This year, I hope, that's good enough.

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