Speaking to Our Deepest Humanity
Christmas and New Years are both rich with meaning and filled with ornate tradition. Christmas beautifully embodies and subsequently displays a desperately needed hope that something bigger is with us, that ‘God is with us’ despite how terribly difficult our journey might be, how terrifyingly lonely we so frequently feel on the journey, and how suffocatingly hopeless it can all become at times. New Years on the other hand is a seminal time to rally oneself in the waning moments of the year, pull oneself up off the perilous road of the past, wipe off bloodied knees, bind wounded hearts, and set one’s sights anew on the fresh road of future that is about to be birthed.
Both holidays are terribly potent. Each speak directly to some essentially core element of our shared humanity in a manner that shakes awake the deepest longings and rouses the most profound yearnings we will ever feel. Both intimately resonate with the very cry of our souls, and each gives desperately needed meaning and hope to this difficult journey. We yearn for the messages that both embrace and subsequently extol these themes. We literally thirst for these things with a thirst so innately deep we are not entirely convinced that the messages of these holidays could ever quench that thirst despite our desperate hope that they might. And these two potently powerful holidays find their mutual juxtaposition within a week of each other at the close of the year.
A Time of Family and Reflection
Then there are the familial and social dynamics of this time of year. It is our natural inclination to gather with loved ones at times such as these to celebrate, experience and possibly endure the holidays. There is something essentially corporate about this time of year, that being alone is entirely contradictory to the message and personality of these holidays. While they engender significant social interactions, they also create a robust and very vivid points of reflection regarding the nature of our lives, the events that we have experienced, the gains or losses we’ve endured, and what the future might or might not hold. These times of family and reflection dramatically coalesce during this time of year.
A Focal Point of Reflection
And because the holidays do all of these things, they set the stage for us to unearth deep emotions otherwise hidden, and encounter unique situations that would rarely occur except for these times. During the holidays, the playing out of various traditions unique to this time of year brings to the surface memories in ways unlike most other times of the year. We can find ourselves swept up in feelings of deep loss, pounded by waves of grief, weighed under the press of pain, and grappling with doubts about our lives and doubts about ourselves. We can find ourselves connected to dark memories of a distant past that find themselves repeatedly triggered during these times. Old issues thought, or at least hoped to have been long dead rear their ugly heads as we encounter people that we don’t see except when the formalities of the holidays bring us face to face with them, or when age-old traditions draw us back to them. And in it all, we find ourselves immersed in various types of pain that we can’t even begin to explain.
The Message of Christmas as a Promise for the New Year
It is not the memories or emotions or situations that the holidays elicit need be our focus nor our foe. Rather, it is the dynamic opportunity that feeling these feelings anew presents us with. It would behoove us to be mindful of the reality that God’s gift to man is both steeled strength for today and unparalleled hope for tomorrow. It may well be that the resurgence of so many emotions presents us with the precious opportunity to bring these emotions face to face with the promises of Christmas in order to heal us and empower us both for this very moment, as well as all of the other moments that sit on the other side of the coming New Year.
Never for a moment would I suggest that we wallow in all of the things that the holidays will resurrect for us. But I would most certainly suggest that they should be held up to and entirely immersed in the power of Christmas, and that this self-same power would pave a way into the New Year and press itself out into the infinite number of New Years that is the stuff of eternity. This is a time to realize that ‘God is with us,’ and because He is we can challenge that which haunts us, heal that which dogs us, press forward without that which presses us and live lives that we had not imagined as possible. That is both the opportunity and possibility of Christmas.