So, it’s been a while since I went home for Christmas, but this year feels different. Maybe my first Christmas in Atlanta felt this way too, I can’t really remember. I’m thankful for my roommate Erik, because it means I’m not the only one here in the house. Going from all kinds of time with people to a fairly quiet, empty house is difficult. I’m missing friends and family all over, but especially my friends from Atlanta right now. Seeing pictures of services at North Avenue, remembering late night dinner at IHOP, gingerbread house builds (and smashes), and so much more has been tough. Remembering the feeling of overwhelming joy at the end of the winter concert, the feeling of accomplishment not because of what I did, but because of what my kids did, these are things I am struggling with now.
I’ve talked some about it, but right now, I’m feeling called away from the thing I felt was my purpose for most of my young adult life. I’ve spent the season feeling this loss, trying to avoid dealing with it. Seeing videos shared by folks at IAS or who are no longer at IAS of past concerts, has brought this up multiple times and I haven’t known how to address it. I think there’s not just the feeling of this loss of something I love so dearly, but also a sense of guilt. I know I could easily go back to the classroom, and given that I’m still young, I could very much be called back, but the idea of being called away is like losing a little piece of myself. Part of me will always, always live in that space, watching kids figure things out, struggle with classroom lessons and life lessons, laugh, sing, dance, work, and everything that happens there. But right now, I’m feeling distinctly that I’m being called away from that. Understanding that God doesn’t call us to what is easy has been a piece of learning for me this year. Not that teaching is or was easy. It’s some of the hardest work I’ve ever done. I miss the classroom. Realizing that missing something and being called back to it are not the same thing is a painful lesson I’m struggling with. I hope that one day, missing it and being called to it will be the same thing. So there’s one piece of this Blue Christmas feeling.
I’m also missing the familiar. Family, my cat (who, my brother has informed me, has been changed from “Abela Minerva” to “Softcastle”, as in Softcastle McCormick, of Wizard People. If you are a harry potter fan, please, do yourself a favor and look this up if you haven’t. It’s quite ridiculous), my friends in Atlanta and Tallahassee, even the weather of a Southeastern Christmas.
All this being said, they also feel like relatively small things, compared to missing loved ones who are gone. I know it’s also a hard Christmas for many who are celebrating without loved ones for the first time, my own family included. Sometimes, I feel in the hustle and bustle of feeling Merry, as we are expected to in this season, we forget these feelings of blue, of hurt, of loss, of confusion, of loneliness. Sometimes, they are our own feelings and we avoid them, because it’s easier to smile and put the star on top of the tree, light the candles, eat the food, sing the songs, however you celebrate, than to stop and say “I’m hurting.” Sometimes, like right now for me, it’s hard because there are so many things you are really enjoying! It seems too extreme, too much, to have all these same conflicting feelings at once. It makes me feel like Ron Weasley, “One person can’t feel all that at the same time, they’d explode.” But then we realize that we can and do.
So, if you’re having a Blue Christmas, for reasons large or small, I hope you know you aren’t alone. Not at all. I’m there with you and so are countless others, for whatever reasons they are there. Please, be kind to yourself, allow yourself to feel it. But then know that it’s perfectly okay to not feel merry. I got to go to Catalina UMC last night, it’s right across the street from us, and at the 9pm service, the pastor talked about why God sent Jesus to us in the flesh, and it really hit me in a deep way. He experienced all of the best and worst that life has to offer. He experienced real and true pain, joy, grief, elation, everything we do. Even if you aren’t a Christian, I think that’s pretty powerful. We all experience all of these feelings at some point. We are not alone in our experiences. For me, I have a Savior that came in the same broken, damaged form that I live in and experience the same kinds of things I do, and more. There’s something quite strong about knowing you’re not alone.
If you’re reading this, I hope you take a moment right now to think or pray or feel for those who are experiencing a Blue Christmas (or Holiday, whatever you would like to call it. Honest.) for whatever reasons they are having that feeling, be they small, large, circumstantial, chronic, or any other number of things. I pray and hope that if you are experiencing a less than Happy Holiday, that you know you are loved, cared for, and cherished. That you find a small thing to make you happy today, that you know you are not alone and that it is perfectly okay to not feel like being merry and celebrating when you are hurt. But mostly, I hope and pray that you know you are not alone. I pray for you that something brings you joy amidst the pain, whether that pain is physical or emotional, even if only for a moment.
Thanks as always for reading.