I’m going to be honest… I have really struggled with writing this post. I wanted to talk about what Christmas means to me and how my faith plays a part in that. This is a timely post and while I deeply love both Christmas and my faith, and for me personally the two are intertwined, I am still on the cusp of what has been an incredibly difficult leg of my life journey. To sit here and tell you how much I adore Christmas, and this is why and this is how my family celebrates, seems so fake and contrived. Sure, we have traditions and we somehow managed to continue those traditions (for the most part) when we were apart last Christmas… But truthfully, I still cringe with so many raw and broken emotions when I think about last Christmas. It is almost like I had loved the season so deeply, and then we had a terrible break up and I feel like I can never look at it the same again…
What I want, this Christmas, is for that feeling to go away and for the magic to be restored. Before the horrible holiday season of 2015, my youngest daughter and I loved cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies. We all loved our trips to the city to watch black and white Christmas movies on the big screen. We bought special outfits to dress up in for our annual “family date.” Last year we had tickets to Newsies. Chw and Gen went alone, of course. On my wall of Playbills, that one hangs there screaming at me of all the mistakes I have made, ways I have both wounded and been wounded, and all that was broken when adulthood just got too hard.
For me Christmas means so many things, different things than they did before last December, but possibly that is simply a part of growing up. Whenever life is hard, or hurts, it seems like the holidays accentuate that. Two Decembers ago, we sat in a New Jersey hospital, afraid that someone dear to us would not wake up. Last December I unpacked my life in the last place I wanted to be, going through the motions of what I felt like I was supposed to be doing, while dying more and more, and more on the inside. Having a faith in Jesus gives my heart reason to celebrate Christmas. Having a faith in Jesus is perhaps the only thing that stopped me from not ending my life last Christmas day when I finally woke up to the reality of life crashing down all around me. Today, in this season, I am not one hundred percent clear about how my faith and the holidays fit together. I could write up some plastic piece which sounds right, and is something I probably would have felt 14 months ago. I don’t want to be that person. Last Christmas looms, in my mind, like the boogeyman. I feel overwhelmed with this need to make up for it, to make it better, to be better and to never be there again. Gone is the magic or sentiment of any beautiful Christmas before, as the shadow of last Christmas hides them all. The Hallmark movies were unbearable for me to sit through, and I saw this play out in Gen as well, though we both tried to force it for a while. It only feels like Christmas because of the sparkly tree and gift wrap. Unspokenly, for me, it all feels so terrifying and like I don’t belong.
It is that last little bit, which has navigated me through. It has driven me as I focus on acts of kindness towards others. We’ve sponsored a family, bought gifts for a young girl and I have tried so very hard to spread genuine kindness and cheer to an increasing number of people who want no part of either. Perhaps this bleak and overwhelming fear I feel is closer to what many feel, where Christmas is concerned.
For me Christmas means Togetherness… Together, an honest connection between my faith and my action. Together with friends and family, wherever we’re at, no fakeness needed. Together within myself. Allowing me to be right where I am at, not drowning within the sea of my expectations and personal disappointment. Holding it together, keeping it together, reaching out, connecting and moving through this season together in every possible way the word can be… Together with God, together with loved ones. Slowly glueing my pieces back in place.
In what has been the absolute worst year of my life, I have had a few bright spots. Two of these come in the forms of really lovely films I’ve had the privilege of writing a bit about before. I loved both of these movies a great deal.
Hillsong: Let Hope Rise follows Hillsong United as they share a bit of their journey both as a band, and individually. It is a moving showcase in the dark days we face, coupled with how God can truly do the unexpected in our lives. As I have said here before, Hillsong has played such a vital part in my year and growth. I truly love this movie for its authenticity and relevance.
Greater is the inspiring true story of college football player Brandon Burlsworth. His journey is one that taught me so much about my own faith and how I live my life. There are not enough things I could say…
BOTH films are releasing on Blu-ray/DVD Tuesday December 20th, just in time for Christmas. I am giving away a movie night bundle to a reader, including copies of BOTH films. Simply comment on THIS POST by December 20th, at 12 a.m. with what Christmas means to you, to be entered.