Blue Christmas

For many, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. With the melodious-sentimental-holiday songs you only hear once a year for the whole month right after Thanksgiving, the coolness of the weather, the red-green color, the lights, the shopping mood, the smell of the homemade holiday cooking, the giddy-cheery-feeling of your family members,…who could argue that this is not the most awesome time of the year? But the story would be a bit different when you have to go through this season without someone you love. Then, this season could be the most awful time of the year.

The whole fairy-tale-like ambiance during Christmas can intensify the feeling of loss, loneliness, and despair. Suddenly our thoughts bring us back to memory lane, where the good Christmas memories were engraved so deeply in our minds. I had some occasions where I found Christmas time as the hardest time when I thought about my dad who passed away ten years ago. My mind took me to reminisce the good ol time with dad: the time when we went go to church together and how he and mom used to watch me and my siblings perform a drama or Christmas music at church; the time when we shared so much laughter in our living room while opening our presents, it made me miss his deep laughing voice and his almost embarrassing sense of humor. It almost made me sick to the gut just to think about how much I missed him.

C.S. Lewis once wrote: “the death of beloved one is like amputation.” My organist friend who who lost one of his arms in an accident said that he often feels like he never lost his arm. He often has “ghost” moments where he can feel as if the arm is still there. He still knows how to send a signal from his brain to his arm to do things and he still has the capacity to imagine his hand, from the missing limb, playing over the keyboard of an organ. But yet, he longer has the arm. For him, that’s the most hurtful feeling of all. I could relate to him. I still remember all the fun times with my dad, I still remember the aroma of his body and the sound of his voice, but I know that he’s no longer around. Yes, for some people the holiday season like now can be a most frustrating time.

Sometimes we forget that the story of the first Christmas was not as red, green, and joyful as we all know it. It was blue because it was smeared with a brutal tragedy. When a jealous King Herod, upon hearing the report from the Magis that there was a newborn king in his territory, ordered the killing of any baby from two years old and under (Matthew 2:16-18). And the Scripture declares during the birth of Jesus, which was supposed to be the happiest time for the world, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning were happening! There were mothers who cried in anguish and fathers who mourned for the lost of their babies. It makes me realize that even early on, not everybody had the same joyful experience like the shepherds in the field knowing that the Savior came for them. Heartaches and tears are also part of this marvelous event.  

There are so many people with some kind of “amputated limb” in their life for the loss of their beloved ones because of an unfateful life event, broken relationship, or death. Whatever that may be, Christmas time always calls us to be near to the One who came to this world: that the God, the Maker of heaven and earth, is willing to become a little baby;  vulnerable, fragile, and crushable. It is a good reminder for us who are mourning and lamenting, that God came to this world so that He could mourn and lament with us. That’s why we call Him who came: Immanuel, God with us. I pray that you may find Christ even in the blueness of your Christmas.

Love and prayers,

Vincent Arishvara 12132018