It Doesn't Feel Like Christmas
Updated: Dec 24, 2020
Our world as we knew it has changed completely since this time last year. And though it is true that each year differs from the previous, we have felt those differences more profoundly than ever in 2020. I hear from so many people, “It doesn’t feel like Christmas.” I get that.
I am experiencing this season very differently than I did last year when all of our adult children and grandchildren came to our house to spend the holidays. I was busy and excited in the days leading up to everyone’s arrival. I had meals all planned and I was making certain I had plenty of clean towels and lots of food for a houseful of hungry folks. I also felt a bit stressed wondering how we would entertain seven small children all under one roof. We would need to somehow create quiet nap-times for the young ones while keeping the older ones occupied with fun activities. It was a whirlwind week that came and went quickly. This year, I am remembering it with such joy - and probably some nostalgia - especially since I haven’t been able to be with some of those sweet family members since that time. And I’m not even sure when I’ll be able to see them again.
To be honest, I hardly felt like decorating for Christmas this year. My husband and I mailed Christmas gifts instead of wrapping them and putting them under the tree for family coming to visit. Our home, a place for parties and usually full of guests for at least a few nights during the season, has been quiet. Very quiet. I reread the first blog I posted about Advent this year in which I wrote, “I have always loved the Christmas season. First, for what it was for me - a celebration of the birth of Christ. Second, because it was a time when family gathered together.” It makes sense that this season would be one of mixed emotions – a celebration of the greatest gift in the midst of change and loss. As I was sitting with and noticing what I was feeling, a scripture came to mind, “‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).” Matthew 1:23 (ESV)
God. With. Us. In the messy. In the change. In the loss. God. With. Us. Although this doesn’t change how I am feeling, knowing this reality helps shift my perspective. God is with me. As I meditate on the ways He is with me, I notice:
He comforts me. He holds me. He secures me.
He walks with me. He fills me. He speaks to me. He is hope for me. He is light with me in darkness.
As the end of the Advent season draws near and Christmastide is just a day away, I am reflecting on these past few weeks of waiting and longing. I recognize that I am in a place to fully experience the joy of celebrating Christ apart from the usual trappings of the season. I am experiencing Him in new ways. Christmas looks different than I supposed it might. The adventure I wrote about in that first blog doesn’t feel like I hoped it would. Yet, I have discovered something important in this season of waiting: my longing is complete only when I let Him be the one thing I am longing for the most. He fulfills and perfects every desire and longing of my heart. And He is with me.
Is it possible to feel sadness and loss in the midst of the celebration of this season? Of course. What doesn’t feel like Christmas to you? What is different for you this season? I invite you to hold what you are noticing and feeling in the presence of the Lord. Meditate on the ways He is with you. Let Him be Immanuel - God with you, today.