Merry Christmas! …Or Something Like That

25 Dec

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“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” ~Luke 2:14

From the bottom of my heart, I want to wish you all a merry, merry Christmas!

May your holiday be bright, full of merriment, and whimsical!

In the past few month, I’ve heard from friends and fellow writers who find the holidays a difficult season. Some people have lost loved ones, and no matter how much time has passed, they still miss spending the holidays with them and grieve over their loss. Some have experienced recent tragedy so great due to Hurricane Sandy, the Newtown school shooting, gang rape and violent protests in New Delhi, and air strikes in Syria that the holidays may be far from their minds. Some suffer quietly with extreme poverty that doesn’t make the news because it’s no longer news. Some come from broken or dysfunctional families, and being altogether for Christmas just brings out the drama. Some wish to see their families but cannot afford the time or money to travel, and some are thankful for good friends to spend holidays with but wish they had a spouse or children to share it with. My heart goes out to all of you who feel dejected, stressed, depressed, scared, and lonely. May you find peace, may you spread good will toward others who may also be experiencing a difficult holiday season, and may you find hope.

This is the first year my immediate family and I will be all together in more than five years. I don’t even remember the last time the five of us were together for Christmas. It must’ve been the year before my parents moved to Greece, my sister to France, and my brother to Boston, while I remained in New Jersey. Since then, there have been other moves within the family, and we’ve sometimes missed each other at a destination by just a week. Some of us have spent holidays together, and most of us have experienced Christmases where we were on our own, spending the holiday with extended family, significant others, friends, or even colleagues. Sometimes I feel sad that life is so full of changes and that I’m not the one deciding and controlling all the changes. I’d like to scoop my family up  and put them in a snow globe, freezing us in a moment of joy and togetherness. But life’s not like that. Part of the beauty of a snow globe is turning it upside down, shaking it up, and watching a great torrent of snow swirl throughout the globe.

Maybe that’s why the Christmas story means a lot to me. As a child and an animal lover, I loved the picturesque scene of gentle-eyed barnyard animals looking ever-so-tenderly at the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling cloth. As I’ve gotten older, though, the story really does seem more like something ripped from the headlines or something out of Law and Order: SVU. A young unwed Middle Eastern woman finding herself pregnant. Her fiance not a wise man but some dude who builds things with his hands. A politician systematically having babies killed. A weird natural phenomenon (the star of Bethlehem). It’s a really dark, strange story in many ways, and when you view it from that perspective, it kind of messes with the idea that Christmas is the “season to be jolly.” When you think of God not as some puppet master who isn’t doing a good job of spreading peace on earth but of this God sending “His only begotten Son” to be born into this mess of a world, it really makes you think. Maybe life isn’t all Christmas cookies and eggnog. Maybe it’s not even just a sweet story of angels and a baby born in a manger. Maybe hope isn’t simple. But maybe that’s okay. Maybe just because it isn’t simple, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

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One Response to “Merry Christmas! …Or Something Like That”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. My Clothes Still Smell Like My Grandma « Stephanie Nikolopoulos - January 4, 2013

    […] Nine years later, we reunited for Christmas in Florida. Instead of a blue fir, there was a palm tree outside my window. […]

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