Why does Christmas hurt?

This is my second Christmas without my parents being alive to celebrate. I still remember coming home on the airplane and thinking about how the word “orphan” applied to me for the first time. It’s a strange feeling. And even though this is the second Christmas, in some ways it seems to be even harder.

I feel a sense of loss. Hallmark channel and FM 99.9 (the Phoenix all-Christmas station) can bring a tear to my eyes at the drop of a hat!

I know you understand.

Why is it that the holidays are so hard for so many? Why do we feel lost at this joyous time of year?

It’s easy to remember our losses at this time of year. Lost parents, lost spouses, lost children, lost friends, lost jobs, lost opportunities.

I know you understand.

It’s easy to idealize the holidays, beyond what they ever were or were meant to be. When we compare real life to our fantasies, real life often loses.

I know you understand.

It’s easy to get run down physically and frazzled emotionally. Fatigue messes up everything, including emotions.

I know you understand.

It’s easy to forget what’s important in the midst of the rush. Loved ones go un-hugged, spiritual disciplines go unpracticed, diets go out the window.

I know you understand.

Sometimes the sense of loss overwhelms us from around a corner and debilitates us. At other times, it comes as a bittersweet tonic mixed with sweet memories. These feelings are real. They are shared by many. They are legitimate and okay.  If you’re having a “lost” moment, allow it to happen. It feels like death, but it will pass. And it will come around again later in a different form.

I wonder if you ever experience a sense of loss, God, when you see your children celebrating the holiday and forgetting the Holy One. Does Christmas ever make you hurt?

Thank you for forgiving us, beyond what we can understand.

Thank you for understanding us, beyond what we can know.

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