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Merry Christmas to the Grinches

Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year,” right? Not for some people. I myself am what some would term a “grinch” around this time of year. Not because I hate Christmas–although I’m not a fan of how it’s shoved down your throat everywhere you go: “You must love Christmas! You must love Christmas!” (as Lois puts it in “Seasons Greedings”)

The sad reality is that Christmas is just a hard time of year for some people. Maybe you lost someone or are estranged from your family. Maybe you miss your kids. Maybe you “had a bad experience” around this time of year. Christmas tends to bring up lots of memories–some that are really good and some that are really bad. It’s just an intense time of year, and people who hate Christmas have good reasons to do so.

My holiday season starts the week of Thanksgiving and runs through New Year’s. I typically have panic attacks and nightmares that run through the entire thing. Christmas day I have multiple panic attacks. I can’t open presents without hyperventilating (thank the good Lord I have a husband and kids who can open them for me!). I have been thrilled this year because I’ve only had two panic attacks so far the whole holiday season and two nights of nightmares–huge, huge, huge progress!

Point is: I don’t like it for a reason. And, in my experience, everyone else who’s a so-called “grinch” is the same way.

But Christmas isn’t about all the trappings–as the who’s say. It actually isn’t even about the “spirit of giving” or about “love”–at least not love in the abstract. It’s a holiday where we celebrate Jesus’ birth because of what He came to do for us. As Jesus says when He quotes Isaiah 61: 1-3, “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,  and provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Jesus falls short of talking about the day of vengeance of our God, because that day hasn’t arrived yet, however, the rest is applicable in the now (and the not yet).

So the reality is that Christmas isn’t for the healthy or the happy. “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor” ((Mark 2:17). Christmas is for the brokenhearted. Christmas is for the captives, for the prisoners. Christmas is for those who mourn and grieve. Christmas is for those who feel like their life is comprised of ashes or mourning or despair, or all three. Christmas is about Jesus coming down and becoming a baby to transform suffering from the inside out.

If today is one of those days you suffer through because you really can’t avoid it, Christmas is for you.

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