You guys, I love this time of year. I love having a huge holiday to look forward to each month. Decorating, making treats, smelling the seasonal smells and seeing the seasonal sights…yeah, I’m one of those guys. The rest of the year is one huge giant slog, with an intermission in July for some crucial birthdays. Other than that, we’re all counting down to the Big Three:
Wherein we embrace death, the universal destination of life. The price that all men must pay. That innate fear within humanity. Some approach it with varying degrees of severity; I prefer the whimsical touch, with an understanding of the reality of death, of the necessity of fear, and our ability to live joyfully in spite of these two things we can’t control.
That mighty feast of the harvest, wherein we take a look at how full our lives really are, how we have reliable channels to sustenance, an abundance of rich and delicious things to fill our bellies. A day of friendship and family and football and food comas…in my adult years so far, I have come to understand the innate value of all of this, especially in such a tumultuous world. Did my parents worry about my future the way I worry about my children’s? Perhaps. ‘Tis only human. But on this day, and in this season, I set aside the worry for what is to come, and revel in gratitude for what has already arrived.
O, thou art the grandest of kahunas. (Kahuni?) That capstone of the year, bursting with color and magic and fulfillment of wishes…of TV specials and blinking lights and mystery gifts in the living room…where reindeer fly and fat men pull one all-nighter and the bank account gets mugged like a cripple in a bad part of town. And the music! Oh, we could gush for days about the music. But we’d rather just listen to it.
Much like Thanksgiving, the lens of adulthood shifts the meaning of Christmas for me. I had a few rough ones in my twenties, on my own, short on funds, trying to make sense of certain trials in my life. While I still chase that childhood feeling, and see my boys lap it up like I did, the deeper meaning is clearer to me. Keeping Christ at the center of it is crucial, because ultimately it’s a holiday about God keeping a promise He made to us.
There is a synchronicity among these holidays, perhaps unintentional, but one that I find all the same: we live in a world where forces can exert their will on us, and we can’t always fight back, and at times we may despair because we know death is at the end of the road.
Yet we also live in a world of plenty, and with our cup running over, we can reflect on the bounties of life, and their real value.
Because ultimately this life is fleeting, and though death comes, its sting is gone, swallowed up in the fulfillment of a divine promise.
I love that we get to remember those things every year. That we dress it up in a parade that smothers all senses, with colors and tastes and smells and heart-shattering joy.
I can endure nine months of the hard, cruel grind of life if I know there’s a respite at the end of the road. Three gory, gracious, gift-laden months of respite.
I love you guys. I love this time of year. I love this life–especially when it’s going great, and even when it sucks.
I hope you love it too.