A few days ago, I shared the story of my neighbor’s nativity scene that I told at my church’s Christmas Party. Now I’d like to share some background. A “behind the scenes” look, if you will.
When the party coordinator put out a call for performances, I started thinking about if I would share something. What would I have to share that would be Christmas themed? I started thinking about how 2016 has been a tough year for so many people. Soon, I started thinking about nativity scenes and the parts of the Christmas story that are missing. Within an hour, I had a structure. I started practicing it over and over, refining it until it was ready. I didn’t write it down; the most I wrote was a short 20-word outline.
I wanted to share something that would encourage those who are hurting. After all, tragedy does not stop for the holidays. For far too many people, this will be the first Christmas without a mother, the first winter without a sibling, the first New Year’s Day without a child. And the holidays can be lonely for those who are mourning. Those experiencing loss may feel uncomfortable sharing their pain with others during what is supposed to be a cheery and festive season. No one wants to be a downer.
I remember talking to a law school classmate after winter break. I asked her how the break was. “Good,” she replied. “Tell me more,” I said. She paused for a moment, then said, “Actually, it was tough. A friend of mine passed away.” She then apologized: “Sorry, I didn’t mean to bring the mood down.” I told her, “Don’t apologize. There’s no need. It must have been a really awful break for you. Thanks for being honest. I’m here if you need me.”
The holidays can be a beautiful and cozy time. For those who observe Christmas, it is a time of deep significance. But I shared my piece to remind all of us to not sanitize the story. For just as the angelic host and adoring shepherds are part of the Christmas tale, so is the killing of innocent children and the lament of grieving mothers.
So if you know someone who is hurting this holiday season, let them know that you care. And if you are hurting, reach out. Don’t feel like you have to hold onto it yourself so as to avoid “ruining the holidays”. Your pain is not a burden. You are not a burden. You are a human.