JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools

pictures and stories from the water’s edge

JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools header image 2

hope for the holidays

December 11th, 2003 · No Comments

I’ve been a bit bah humbug about holidays. Especially Christmas. It’s incredibly commercial, as if created specifically for the economy. And there’s the whole psychology of Santa, telling stories to children that aren’t true. Plus it was a pagan celebration, borrowed from the beginning, not something Jesus instituted. Heck, it’s not even his real birthday; like a fake ID with a fake date. It’s a two-headed holiday with gifts and greed, stockings and Santa, on one hand, and a baby boy born in a Bethlehem manger on the other. I could take one or the other, but trying to combine the two irritates me.

But most of all, I think my Scrooge spirit came from my childhood. With divorce and other dysfunction in my family, the holiday’s weren’t too happy. Sure, we got at least two celebrations, lots of treats and two Santa visits, but it wasn’t much fun to have a split family, to feel like a yo-yo or a bean bag toss, going back and forth between homes. Also, sadly, giving each other gifts became a kind of game, heavy with expectation and obligation. We examined presents and examined love. It was as if we could never satisfy each other, or as if happiness could be bought and wrapped and stuck under a tree. Christmas morning too often for me as a child was about bubbles bursting and dreams dying rather than waking up and walking into fantasies come alive.

But this year is different for me. I’m singing along with the Christmas songs on the radio and smiling as I drive to the stores. I’m looking forward to the special days, excited about what I’m giving my family, and what I’ve already received as gifts this year. Our house is still a bit on the spartan side, far as decor goes – no tree or colorful lights – but there’s lots sparkling inside me.

Yes, I am happy for the holidays. Well, I am way behind on preparing my cards and gifts, but this year I almost don’t care if they are late. I’ll do my best to make it to the post office soon, but I am enjoying the holidays much more, freed from the obligations that made me miserable. This year I’m feeling more grateful for my family, instead of feeling grated by them. The counseling and healing I received this summer exchanged my bah humbug blahs for hope.

Another aspect of Christmas that always disturbed me is how Jesus appears portrayed in the nativity, surrounded by porcelain angels, lots of perfect paint and aesthetics. So I blogged recently. But what I found this summer, through my time of counseling, is that Jesus is there in the muck and mess. He’s there in the manger all right, in the less-than-perfect life. He was there in all my pain and problems. He has formed my family, even with all its dysfunction. Emmanuel means God with us. God with us in everything, all the mess, all the burst bubbles and dead dreams, there in the manger on Christmas morning and every day.

So this year I certainly am thankful Jesus was born, and all the other stuff that our society likes to stack on top of this celebration, all kinds of decor and cheer, only adds to my gratitude. I feel I have many reasons for celebrating – bring on the lights and ribbons and bows! The Baby born so many years ago has given me new heart and new hope. Joy to the World indeed!

Tags: christmas