Monday, December 29, 2008

Feel Like Christmas?

Late Christmas Day, my wife commented to me that it didn't feel like Christmas.  I agreed with her and it got me wondering why and I ended up asking myself two questions.

The first was, "Why didn't it feel like Christmas?"  I think I have the answer to that question. After spending 11 hours at Church on Christmas Eve, participating in four Christmas Eve services, then driving 3 1/2 hours to my mom's place (half of it through blowing snow), arriving just before 1 am, getting to bed at 2 am, then getting up late Christmas morning, unwrapping presents, wolfing down a big turkey dinner, watching two movies and crashing totally exhausted that night, I didn't have time to feel anything much more than frantic exhaustion.

When I think about it, it hasn't felt like Christmas in years, especially since being on staff at a church.  November and December are just one big blur of activity leading up to Christmas Eve and by the time Christmas Day arrives I am tired and my only desire is to crash.  Which leads to my second question, "What is Christmas supposed to feel like?"

I don't have the answer to this question.  If I look at Mary and Joseph, my Christmas looks rather laid back.  They had nine months of mystery, confusion and nasty rumours. Mary spent most of that time at her cousin's place.  They had to travel to Bethlehem with Mary full term in her pregnancy, camp out in a stable while she gave birth, have their privacy invaded by shepherds and kings and eventually they had to get out of town and head to Egypt.  I'm not sure that they had warm fuzzy expectations about Christmas. 

In fact when it comes down to it, they felt, what they felt, when they had to feel it, because of the particular circumstances they were in.  At times their feelings would have been a reaction to their situation and at other times they probably tried to rise above their circumstances and choose to feel hope, or peace or whatever.  Their emotions would have run the complete gamut from fear, to awe, to hope, to confusion, to anger, to joy. 

Maybe, that is what Christmas is supposed to "feel" like.  In fact maybe Christmas is not about feelings at all.  Maybe, it is simply something real that takes place and how we feel about it is how we react and interact with that reality.  Maybe, our feelings are secondary.  It didn't matter how Mary, or Joseph, or the people of Nazareth, or Caesar, or any of the others felt.  It only mattered what they did with it.  The Bible says that Mary treasured these things and pondered them in her heart.  Maybe, emotional exhaustion is alright, as long as I choose to treasure these things and reflect on what they truly mean.

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