GENDUSA COLUMN: The Heart of Christmas

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, December 15, 2021

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The fog settled in for the evening and a steady drizzle chilled my bones. While driving a short way home after visiting a friend, I noticed the Christmas lights on neighbors’ houses were blurred, and their decorations were barely visible through the dense air.  In poor visibility, I navigated down the hills, past the lake and toward my house.

Christmas will be difficult for many this year, especially if they are trying to weave their way through the blur of loss, grief, sadness or troubles. Those suffering desire to come through the darkness and clearly see the light of happiness once again. However, sadly, many believe they never will. It is as if the fog and foul weather will continue to dampen their lives and chill them to the bones.

Since Christmas Eve two years ago, the world has lost 5 million people to COVID alone.

And countless others have suffered the loss of a loved one through another illness or tragedy. Death’s stings and hardships are part of our earthly journey, and they, unfortunately, will never go away. However, sometimes even in our darkest hours, we can find a spark of light to help us heal and regain our hope.

Several of my friends have lost the loves of their lives this year.

We can sit and hold their hands, offering comfort and encouragement, but Christmas can be the most challenging time for those in the middle of grief. They recall the past and the delight of sharing their special day with their partners, children, and friends. Then, with stark realization, they understand their usual traditional holidays are over, and the thought of Christmas being joyful again seems unfathomable.

Yet, it is actually Christmas that brings the light, the healing and the aide.

A baby lay in a manger on a clear evening long ago, which brought joy to the world and redeemed hope. Even when we are in the middle of a struggle, it is this day to celebrate and be thankful. 

Jesus came into the world to save us. He taught us about a merciful God who understands our suffering, heartaches and doubt. Christ showed us life goes beyond our days here and that if we just believe in him, we will again be reunited with those we lost. When the Lord’s earthly 33-year tenure was over, he again explained to us through the resurrection that he is with us through all our days, including those shrouded in haze and sorrow.

I love Christmas, as you probably know by now. I love all the hoopla, the Hallmark Channel, the decorations, and those sinful cookies. But none of those things are the heart of Christmas. The holiday festivities are not only about being with family, friends, or opening presents, but Christmas is celebrating our savior who gave those gifts to us in the first place.

For heaven’s sake, it is his birthday! Even when we don’t feel quite up to life, he is entirely up to help us through it if we just ask. That is why Christ is the heart of Christmas. He is the true definition of joy, and there is nothing he would want more than to hand us the lamp to guide us through our dreadful and dreary days.

We travel to our churches, light candles on Christmas Eve, and wish each other a Merry Christmas.

Our personal traditions of these holidays are stamped in our memory forever. We make sure our children visit Santa, hang their stockings, and be good so they will receive the toys they desire.

During our busy, bustling Christmas holidays, Christ quietly remains in the wings for all children to come to him to seek refuge from pain, hope for tomorrow and be filled with love. He watches and waits for us, yet we can overlook the very one who is the reason for our celebrations.

I have lost much in my life, struggled with depression, divorce, broken relationships, traumatic events and dumb decisions. I have sinned, and I have failed numerous times. However, I have been blessed with enough faith in the little baby born on the first Christmas to sustain me always. I know I can survive because he lives. With clarity, I know that when the fog sets in, I will eventually find the light to navigate my way home.

The heart of Christmas is the gift of joy God gave us all when his only child was born into our world and became our miracle. 

And the angel said, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Luke 2:10.

I wish you all a blessed and beautiful, hope-filled, safe and joyful Christmas.