Truth be told, I’m a little embarrassed about how much I enjoy the Christmas season. Although I was raised in the thick of the American evangelical Baptist tradition, I enjoy the secular/pagan Yule traditions and delights nearly as much as I enjoy the swath of traditions found in Christendom — Christmas trees, parades, tree lighting ceremonies, get-togethers with friends, gift exchanges, caroling, decorating, all of it. To me it’s not just the vague “most wonderful time of the year,” it is the most romantic, sentimental, and memorable time of the year.
My siblings and I went outside in the afternoon on Christmas day and made a snowman. (It can’t be overstated how proud I am of that snowman.) We threw snowballs, tackled each other in the snow, and then rather cliché-ly drank hot chocolate around the fireplace when we came inside. It was beautiful, and what’s just as beautiful is witnessing and pondering the millions of other Christmas traditions and stories that were taking place at the same time.
But Christmas is over. Good news for some, but a pang of reality for many. I always feel weird the day after Christmas. Yes, I’ll see my siblings before long, I went out with my bros (and a few extra visiting from out of town) for our regular Tuesday night Applebee’s ritual, and I’ll get to enjoy my Christmas gifts for years to come. Still, the trees and the lights and the holly will come down, and eventually the snowman will melt.
I know I share these post-Christmas blues with many. I don’t have much to offer for condolences. But I do have a reminder and an encouragement as we move into 2018.
Remember dear friends, neighbors, churchgoers, business owners, and readers that there was pain, struggle, loss, and loneliness during this Christmas season. While many of us enjoyed good company, full bellies, and longstanding holiday traditions, there were those right next-door who spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day alone. There were still those who struggled to get food on the table, who were frustrated they couldn’t buy gifts for their loved ones, and who felt alienated by the traditions of others.
I’m not usually one to encourage anyone to abandon traditions, and I certainly won’t here. Rather, moving into 2018 let resolutions include being respectful of the traditions, or lack there of, of others, and making concrete plans to be more active in providing without expectation of return. We may criticize seemingly ineffective charities, or foreign practices all we like, and some of it may even be justified. It is difficult, however, to do so and expect to be absolved of responsibility, or to have our own traditions respected.
You may not be able to kill the post-Christmas blues, but you can resolve to make Christmas more enjoyable for others next year. You may not be able to stop the snowman from melting, but you can invite your neighbor to help with one next year, and then offer some hot chocolate afterwards, or hot tea if that’s their prerogative.