I have experienced very little tragedy and loss in my life. I know I am very fortunate in this department. So I can't even begin to know or understand how people who have endured such pain often feel during the holidays. This is a time when we are all supposed to be cheery and bright. Those who aren't are called Scrooges or Grinches.
There really is no need for name calling. Everyone deals with life in various ways and it is not exactly a requirement to be in a good mood now, or ever really.
During the Christmas season the one element that puts me in the Christmas spirit the fastest it music. I love music and Christmas music ranks at the top-probably because it is a bit forbidden, frowned upon during 10 or 11 months of the year.
(I must admit I sometimes sneak a CD out in July if the mood strikes me. I've even been known to choose "O Come All Ye Faithful" for the church congregation to sing in a month other than December. What a rebel!)
This year my favorite CD to spin is Kathy Mattea's "Joy For Christmas Day". Produced in 2003, it has been in my collection for a while, but I think this year is the first time I really listened to the title inspiration "There's Still My Joy".
In this song about a person experiencing sorrow and loss during the holiday season, Mattea sings, "One tiny Child can change the world. One shining light can show the way. Through all my tears for what I've lost, there's still my joy for Christmas Day."
Those lyrics really struck me this year as I thought about how no matter what a person's emotions or sorrow for loss, the reason for Christmas can and should override the emotion. So this year, if you are feeling down and wallowing in your sorrow, I encourage you to please find the strength and resolve to focus on the reason for the season-Baby Jesus who came to save the world.
That focus may require some stillness. You may not think you have a moment to spare, but settling in on Christmas Eve or any other designated time and watching a children's program, listening to a cantata, reading scripture, or even watching a movie can renew the joy for Christmas Day. I hope you will know that joy this year and for years to come.