What are you hiding from?
What is your Christmas tree blocking from view?
What secrets are hidden behind the decorations on your bookshelves?
What noise are you drowning out with all the music?
I love the way we decorate for Christmas. My wife and I both love nativity scenes (even with all the biblical inaccuracies like wise men at the manger). We love homemade ornaments. We actually have two Christmas trees in our house. One for store bought ornaments and one that holds all the ornaments our kids (ages 16, 14, and 12) have made as well as the ones we have received for nieces, nephews, other family members, and friends.
The past couple of years we have started decorating outside the house, as well. I don’t hang lights on the house for two reasons: we rent (which is a GREAT excuse) and I would die trying to do something that involves ladders, tools, and electricity. But we have some lawn decorations and some door and window hangs. We even bought one of those inflatable toy soldiers for the front yard (toy soldiers are second behind nativity scenes in our decorating scheme).
I love the fun of Christmas of morning and the unwrapping and the picture taking and the chocolate eating and the movie watching and the game playing and the clothes-trying-on and eating more chocolate. And then going back to bed at about 9:30 AM.
I love the family gatherings and the friend gatherings that occur. I have fun at the small gift exchanges we get to go to. I love watching all the school related events that take place: church pageants and choir concerts and band concerts and caroling through neighborhoods.
Oh yeah, one thing about caroling: the way my family does it is hands down the best. We drive to people’s houses, knock on their door, stand up perfectly straight with our hands clenched together, and then we sing our carol. Mind you, all five of us pick our favorite carol and we sing it. At the same time. As loud as we possibly can. The response has ranged from having the door shut in our faces to hearing, “Can I go with and we can go to my parents’ house?” (Fun fact: those two responses happened at the same house!)
I love the ways we worship during Advent. I love the acknowledgement of waiting and darkness. The reminder that pain exists and this is a dark world. The songs of joy because Jesus came into the world. The confusion, humility, and willingness of a teenage girl. The reminder that evil will not win.
I love all of that. It’s great. I wish it lasted all year long. But there is a problem. At least, the potential for a problem.
All of that noise, all of those songs, all of those decorations, all of that busy-ness can create an incredible smoke screen.
It is so easy to hide all of my hurt during the month of December. It is so easy to sail along without addressing any real issues. It is easy to avoid having those conversations I need to have. It is easy to say, “With all the pain and suffering in the world all year long, I need a break from paying attention.”
It is so easy to be in the midst of large crowds singing about joy yet still feel isolated and in despair.
But as long as we stand under the mistletoe, no one will even notice.
As long as we slowly sip our peppermint mocha, we can pretend like everything is okay.
As long as we sing Silent Night, no one will make us break the silence that is killing us.
What are you hiding from this Christmas? Remember, Jesus came into a dark world in desperate need of redemption. Christmastime, the Advent season, is not (only) about joy and presents and laughter and family.
Christmas is about facing the darkness. Christmas is about acknowledging our pain and weakness.
The decorations should never hide your pain. The activities should never silence your calls for help.
The celebration should be joy at surviving the day. The celebration should be hurting people get to have fun, too.
The glitter of Christmas is not found in how much tinsel we wrap around our house.
The glitter of Christmas is when hurting people go to other hurting people and say, “Let’s hurt together. And while we’re at it: let’s decorate, let’s sing, let’s eat lots and lots of chocolate.”
The only things that should be hidden at Christmas are the presents before they are wrapped and put under the tree. Let’s be open and honest with one another during this season. Let’s come together in our shared struggle so that we can share together in our shared joy.