I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Snow is our thing. We may not have winning sports teams or ocean views or swanky ski resorts but we have snow. That's our claim to fame. We are Winterpeg - except almost we weren't.
This year has been unseasonably warm. Like mow your lawn in December warm. That NEVER happens here but it did. It was halfway through December and we could still see grass! How depressing! How unWinnipegish of us!
I've not felt very Christmassy this year. I've just not been 'into' it. I blamed it on the lack of snow. I wasn't excited to decorate. I couldn't care less about Christmas baking. I felt blah about most of our traditions. In fact, I didn't even wear Christmas socks but once or twice. All of this I blamed on the warm weather and green grass. I blamed and I believed it to be true.
I thought that once it snowed proper I'd feel Christmas. Well, it snowed and I'm still in a funk. Like, seriously. Whatever, man. Christmas, you suck. We're breaking up.
I actually do feel bad for being so bah-humbug. I also felt very alone in my holiday grouchiness - and this made me feel worse about the whole thing - until I had a little chat with a friend yesterday. We were at our kids' Christmas concert rehearsal and she leaned over and whispered, "I feel bad even saying this but I'm so not into Christmas this year. I know Jesus should be enough to make me feel joyful but … "
"He is enough. And you are a human being with real deal stuff. You are joyful just not happy. And that's okay." I said those words as much to myself as I did to her because I suddenly realized they're true. It's not the snow that has me down. It's life. It's missing my dad. Missing my house. Missing my people. Missing who I was while I try to recognize who I am. It's feeling All the Feels that have piled up this year. It's being a grown up. It's missing and loneliness and heartache. It has little to do with snow and everything to do with being a human being with a human heart.
I left the practice feeling less alone but no more Christmassy. On the way home, Joyboy and I stopped at the store for a few things. As we hopped over snow banks he said, "I know you really like the snow but I think all this must be hard for people in wheelchairs. Y'know, like that really independent guy at church. Today must be hard for him to get around."
"I do like the snow but you're right. I was also thinking about homeless people today. This weather is really hard on them, too."
"Sometimes it's hard to be happy at Christmas, isn't it? Especially when you really think about all the stuff people have to live with," he sighed and squeezed my hand. And in that moment, it felt like Christmas. It felt like love and care and understanding and kindness. It felt like comfort. It felt like Jesus was near. In our sadness and concern for others, it finally felt a little like Christmas.
I never used to understand people who had a hard time at Christmas. I didn't get how the Magic of Christmas wasn't big enough for some people. But I get it now. I get how sometimes it takes more than a happy carol and a good snowfall to break through All the Stuff. I get how a joy-filled person can not be as happy and as excited as they once were. I get how Jesus is enough and yet All the Feels are still there. I get how peace can reign where heart ache still exists. I get it.
So, I'm a little blue this Christmas - and that's okay. I will still laugh and make memories. I will still celebrate and cherish. I will still participate in our traditions and love all the moments with those I love. I will keep Christmas despite all of the other stuff. And I will not feel bad about all the other stuff - because Jesus is in that, too.
I will feel All the Feels because He is feeling those Feels with me. He does not abandon me or cast me aside in my heavy-heartedness. He holds me tight. So tight that I can feel His heartbeat next to mine. So close that His breath fills my lungs. So gently that my broken heart finally feels safe. So securely that I rest, the deep, healing rest of one who is well loved. For I am well loved this blue Christmas … as are you, Dear One!
"I've never quite loving you and I never will!"
~God, Jeremiah 31:3 (The Message)