Today I googled, “Why is Christmas sad?” I didn’t find anything. And I wasn’t really looking for an actual WHY as if I don’t know. I just wondered if someone else had beautifully blogged about this bittersweet phenomenon in which we love the holidays but we write songs like Have Yourself A Merry Little… or, God forgive him for the torture, The Christmas Shoes. (If I NEVER hear that song again, I will have heard it too many times, whereas the former I actually quite enjoy).
For me it always seems a little too tied to money. If I can’t afford all the things on the kids’ lists, it feels too familiar – to the Christmas when John wanted a puppy, for instance, and the timing didn’t seem right so we decided to forewarn him that it wouldn’t happen and I spent half an hour in the bathroom SOBBING because we had just ruined his belief in Santa, in us, and in the magic of Christmas in one fell swoop. Or I’m reminded of all those Christmases when we waited until the last minute to buy gifts and then put them on a credit card because there really wasn’t any other way, and then the heart behind it all just seemed completely ruined.
I always want Christmas to feel exactly like the shopping scene in the new Miracle on 34th Street – the sidewalks of Manhattan, ice skating in Central Park, twinkly lights everywhere, and Kenny G playing the aforementioned saddest happy song on the PLANET in the background. But there’s so much of it that doesn’t feel like that. Walmart on Black Friday, for instance. Being on one too many Secret Santa lists (or three or four too many). Not knowing how, among all the gift exchanges and grab bags and last-minute forgottens, to live out the words of that beautiful song from our Christmas video two years ago:
All that I want for Christmas, is to give my love away.
Feeling emotional at Christmas is like having the baby blues after delivery. Many people go there, few confess. We know the happiness is bigger than the ache, so we ignore it or pretend it’s not there or actually forget about it when everything finally comes together and we finish our list or sometimes after we’ve only just begun but have realized there are perfect gifts for perfect people to be found.
Maybe you’re away from home for the first time or there’s someone missing that should be with you still. Maybe you were hoping some things would have changed by now, and they haven’t, or you can’t stop wishing for all the things that have changed that you sort of want back the way they were. I can’t actually help you. That’s the problem. I don’t have the magic. But I do believe in it. And every year, without fail, I see it at some point again – those moments that make me believe, seriously, a black night, frightened shepherds, and plain, plain people with a quiet, scandalous birth…but the angels filled the sky. They filled it and they sang and it was ridiculous and amazing, and it shouldn’t have happened and surely it couldn’t be happening. And yet it was. And it did. And there are still moments to be found today that make that ridiculously magic story seem totally and completely possible and true.
Find yours. Look for it in your children, your best friends, your mama, your neighbor, the child who gets a shoebox full of goodies thanks to you. Know you’re not alone in the sad. But that none of us have to get through without the magic.