Restoring Christmas: redux, ver. 2.0
by Lexiann Grant
Last year for Christmas, I wrote an essay about Restoring Christmas during pandemic. Very little and everything has changed since.
Although many attempt life as it used to be, pandemic is still with us, still claiming lives, hospitalizing people, breaking through to vaccinated individuals, resulting in mandates, causing argumentative divisions. We struggle and we mourn. As a friend said about people’s numerous large stressors or losses to death, “it’s become the norm these days.”
Crime is up, supplies are out, tempers are flared, and, patience, respect and many small kindnesses have all but disappeared.
And so we come to another Christmas where all the world is wonky, whapper-jawed and out of sorts. Life was, is and probably will remain forever in this world, a most difficult thing. Again, probably much like it was when Jesus was born.
But Jesus isn’t being physically born this year. He’s been and left and until he returns, it’s up to us for Emmanuel, God with us, to reach into our hearts and find His presence.
We need to recall that it isn’t about presents, parties (bad idea with Omicron), perfect dinners or pretty decorations. How many of us have ever truly experienced when Christmas was about the inner and spiritual grace, and not about the outward signs?
True the outward signs are symbolic of love, peace, joy and redemption, but how long, if ever has it been since this was our experience of Christmas?
In my household, the kitten, now an active adolescent, is still the terror of the tree. Figurines in the creche are faring worse this year than last as he runs, slides and knocks them over like bowling pins. The branches of the tree I was told probably couldn’t be found, droop to the floor. The few packages that we ordered weeks in advance (rush, rush!) are sporting holes where ribbons were once taped. With the addition of some major difficulties, there is little semblance of restoration here.
But we are blessed to have so much when others do without.
Our focus is being redirected: to restore Christmas as it was, is meant to be – about giving, caring, listening, comforting. Fewer gifts and lights? It’s ok, that’s really the point, the baseline, isn’t it?
If your Christmas this year is lonely or impoverished in any manner – be present – remind others you are here and of value. Ask for prayers. Ask for help. Give others the gift of the opportunity to be kind and generous, as Jesus directed us to be. We truly need the restoration of compassion.
For those who aren’t having a bare bones holiday, be deeply thankful. Share your bounty. Sing a carol, make a donation reach out to those who are in dismay or distress. Turn your thoughts from the symbols and trappings of Christmas to the people who surround us. Be a living example of Jesus coming alive, here and now.
Whatever your situation, rejoice and be exceedingly glad for there truly are tidings of great joy if we only seek to find them in different ways and Christmas will be restored yet again.
Merry Christmas and God bless us one and all.
Lexiann Grant is a retired writer & author, a former chalicer and layreader, but still an Episcopalian who enjoys encountering God in the mountain backcountry.