What if Christmas Was More Like Thanksgiving?

‘Tis the season, so they say, for comfort and joy. Yet, if you take a poll of adults in your life and ask them what emotions they feel at Christmastime, the words “comfort” and “joy” don’t seem to roll right off the tongue. ‘Tis more the season for discomfort and toys.

I’m not sure what happens in the short few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but emotions shift. On Thanksgiving day, we all seem to be reflecting on how grateful we are for what we have. Whether we have a lot or a little, we tend to swap soundbites of thanks. Thankful for the food in our bellies, a roof over our heads, freedoms we enjoy, and families who love us. We’re just more apt to go mining for reminders of God’s blessings that day.

Then, at the stroke of midnight, the pumpkins that we were looking at—and eating—are not as satisfying anymore. We turn around from our banquet of thanksgiving only to be confronted squarely by a giant crystal showcase of lack and loss. Bordered by flashing multi-colored Christmas lights. Accompanied by ironically cheery jingle jangle carols.

I’m not saying that absolutely every adult has encountered affects of “the showcase of lack and loss.” But if you’ve lost a loved one, Christmas brings on an ache for the one who left an empty chair. If you’ve lost a job or finances have been a mess, those toys you are compelled to provide for your kids bring added stress. Then there’s family—broken, bickering or miles away—that adds to the weight.

If your life has very little margin as it is, the “extra” of Christmas buying, wrapping, decorating, card-sending, cheer-spreading, program-going, and cooking can make you feel inadequate and overwhelmed. If you have health problems, the only gift you want is healing and it feels so allusive.

So maybe you feel guilty for your secret—or not so secret—bahs and humbugs. Perhaps you’re like me and you have an expectation of Christmas based on how you felt when you were a kid, and as an adult you’ve never been able to match it again. The awe. The wonder. The anticipation and delight. But you can relive it through your kids, right? The spotlight that shines brightly in my showcase of loss is the fact that my 5-year-old boy has autism and doesn’t yet speak, and I’m not sure he even knows what Christmas is. I know many others in this community that feel the lack of “typical.”

I asked God one day, would you show me Christmas from Your perspective? Like most things, if we look at it from a human standpoint we will try to fill this hole with our stuff, and that never really satisfies. Why should we want a “magical” Christmas when we could have a “supernatural” Christmas, anyway?

I was reminded of this: our good Father sent a baby to this earth to be God WITH us. That baby grew up to be a man who died and rose again so we could have Christ IN us, the HOPE of glory! He is why we celebrate. He alone is our inner source of comfort and joy. He is our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. When I think of that, I am spurred to thanksgiving once again!

A Recipe to Share from the Apostle Paul:

I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. Philippians 4:12 (MSG)

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