“The way my family anticipates Christmas feels different from the way we look forward to almost anything else. For other things, we’re excited about learning, seeing, or exploring something new. But Christmas is different. We look forward to it all year. We count down the days, just to experience it nearly exactly as we always have.” Joanna Gaines, Magnolia Journal, Issue 9~
Twenty-twenty has been a year very much unlike any other year. For many of us, this Christmas will be unlike any other as well. The dream of experiencing the holiday season exactly as we have in the past seems impossible.
In many ways, though, this time is much like any other. Christmas decorations are up in every kind of store. The mall has had the tree up with the lights on for weeks. Grocery stores feature similar decorations and music. Cranberries, turkeys, hams, and cookie ingredients line the shelves–all to evoke our memories of holidays of the past.
I doubt we’ll see long lines of children waiting to see Santa this year. Something that would have tortured me had it happened in the ’70s and ’80s–that period of time when my children posed 16 years in a row for Santa pics (toward the end, much to the chagrin of the first- and second-born).
And I don’t expect the kids’ choir will entertain a crowd in the center of the mall this year either.
Much will be different this year. But much will be the same. We can still enjoy the music, lights, and food. We can wish each other blessings in person or virtually. We can work to remember that it’s the love that matters more than whether we are in person or online.
As we search for finding that sameness in the holidays this year, may we remember those who’ve had it worse than we have. Even if we feel we are at our lowest, it often isn’t difficult to find someone who’s feeling lower than we are.
Even though this year won’t be exactly the same (no year ever is), we are drawn to the season of peace–a respite from the world of bitter politics and bad news.
We will find the joy of the season as we proclaim God’s goodness to others–those we love–those in need around us–those driving by our houses whose lives we don’t know.
We are the people of light. And the darkness around us can never overcome the light.
That is the great promise of Emmanuel–the Light of the world with us.