Christmas can bring out the best in people - smiles shared with strangers, gifts expressing generous hearts, snatches of old songs hummed even while standing in long lines, the light reflected in the eyes of a child reminding those who aren’t what it used to be like, the excitement of the whole world getting ready for one single day. Families come together to share in long remembered and cherished traditions, re-making connections that stretch backward and forward through the years. Friends search for something that will perfectly reflect their heart for another. Tiny lights breaking the dark of the longest night, sparkle and shimmer, almost dancing to the music of peace and joy.
Of course, Christmas can also bring out the worst in people - snarls wrestling over the last must have whatever on the shelf, gifts given out of guilt, banal and boring words and melodies that trivialize deep meaning, greed in the eyes of a child mixing with disappointment over not getting everything, the stress of the whole world heading towards the same finish line. Families come together to resume the same old, tired conflict after the truce that distance called last year, wondering if family can mean anything other than baggage and hard work. Friends desperately search for anything that will be of approximately the same value as what they just got from someone they had no intention of buying for this year.
It is enough to make a person disappear for a month or two. But don’t do it! Take heart - be of good cheer - have courage at Christmas
Courage to let yourself relax and enjoy an imperfect celebration with imperfect people of the coming of a perfect savior who is God, with us.
Courage to be who you are in Christ and not be sucked in to the death dealing structures of greed and guilt.
Courage to settle for simple without shame and to carve out time for the things and people that are special to you.
Courage to recognize the holy in the holiday.