But as I grew older, I realized this joyous occasion was not a magic balm. Statistics tell us that more people suffer depression and more people are prone to suicide during the holidays than at any other time.
Yet this season is supposed to be a time of joy. Why isn’t it? Didn’t the angels proclaim on that night long, long ago to the shepherds, “Behold I bring you good tiding of great joy”?
Where did it get lost? Was it because people began celebrating the wrong things? Instead of celebrating the Christ — our joy — the search for the ultimate happiness took seekers to other things and the “great joy” was lost.
Maybe the reason it is seldom found is relative to where it was in the first place. Instead of in Christ, joy was sought in other things and events.
Christmas is a family time and the family is of the utmost importance. But if the total pleasure of celebrating Christmas is being with family, it rests in jeopardy. Families can break apart and disintegrate; relationships can change; death can take away all those we joy in.
And there are many who have no family. They can’t make family the focus of their Christmas celebration. What happens if everything rests on the family ties, and suddenly there is no family gathering? There goes Christmas and in comes depression and sadness.
During this holiday season, loved ones will pass on; disappointment will come because someone can’t come home — tears will be shed for those who are missing from the dinner table.
Some base their Christmas happiness on being able to give — to help the poor; to cook for the hungry. All this is good and should be a part of a person’s Christmas celebration, but if circumstances prevent this from happening, will that destroy the giver because that was all Christmas was?
There are some people who exist for the excitement of Christmas — they love the hurry and scurry; they love the activities, the parties, the decorating and that’s not wrong. But if that is what Christmas is totally, they’ll never experience the joy of knowing that Christ has come.
What if disappointment comes through loved ones or situations — changed circumstances that create an unpleasant economical situation? What if the string of lights goes out, the star at the top of the tree just won’t blink or the turkey burns?
All of this can happen, but Christ still came and Christ still lives.
A few years after my husband was killed in an auto accident, Dec. 24 dawned with bad weather separating my parents and myself. My son was also in another state and couldn’t get home for Christmas. It was going to be the first Christmas Eve alone in my life. I wondered how would I make it through the night. How could I have the joy of Christmas when my loved ones weren’t with me?
Then I realized this wasn’t only a celebration of family, Christmas dinner or my beautifully decorated tree — it was to remember the importance of why Christ was born and what that event meant to me. And that I could celebrate joyously — even alone.
None of these things change that eternal event. Whatever trappings the celebration of Christmas has — the Gift of God to this world came and nothing can change that. HE is the JOY to the world.