You can taste it in every Christmas carol; Christmas is a bittersweet season. If you managed to make it through childhood I’m guessing your Christmas is tinged with some feeling of sadness. The tension that is Christmas actually started in childhood for me. Christmas meant bringing in the live tree, cleaning house, baking cookies and rising excitement as Christmas eve approached. The tree, dust and excitement created in me the perfect storm which invariably led to severe asthma attacks which left me sick on the couch most vacations. I no longer suffer these attacks but now Christmas is tinged with other memories.
Christmas eve of 2008 was a unique celebration for my family. Since childhood we celebrated with dinner at my mothers’ house. When she got older and feeble the celebration moved to the house of my sister. That year we did not eat dinner in a house. My mother was diagnosed with cancer that year and the family met in her hospital room to give her gifts and have a small celebration. Since all the family had driven to the hospital it was easier to have dinner at a local restaurant than a specific house. That was the only year that we’ve celebrated at a restaurant.
That same year my divorce went through. The rich blessing of Christmas day that year and all the years since my marriage blew apart was celebrating with close friends. Knowing that I would be lost at Christmas the year of the breakup I was invited to celebrate the day with a close friends’ family. This year will mark six years that the tradition has continued. It makes for a rich and blessed Christmas day but the invitation to partake came out of my pain and brokenness.
“And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed---and a sword will pierce even your own soul,” “Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, be became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem…” So Christmas was bittersweet since the beginning.
God rest ye merry, gentlemen, Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour, Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's power, When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy.