In the last two years, a few of us have attempted to give voice and expression to some of the dilemmas and lesser-mentioned feelings that we experience around Christmas.
Here are some examples: Bringing us back to the true spirit of Christmas, Joanne wrote about giving the perfect gift: Less weariness, more love.
“When giving becomes a chore, perhaps we need to stop and recalibrate. The question isn’t what to give but why you are giving. Every gift has the latent power to carry the message of I know you and I love you. Activate it.”
Siqi looks forward to the gathering of her relatives during Christmas every year, and reminds us to be present with our loved ones:
“Christmas can be a mad rush of events…. There’s food to be made, plates to be set, drinks to be served. We get so caught up in trying to do everything that we forget to slow down and simply be present in the moment.”
Based in Hong Kong for work at that time, Clement arrived home in Singapore with no parties to attend. That experience led him to consider those who might also be feeling left out:
“But as I wandered along the streets of Tanjong Pagar that Christmas after a family dinner, my thoughts drifted to my other single friends, the elderly, the sick, even the foreigner who’s just moved to Singapore – those who have nobody to celebrate the holiday with.”
A jolly good time feels like the default mood for Christmastime but life doesn’t quite run on a schedule like that all the time.
My heart goes out to those who feel crappy during the festive seasons, not because of bad gifts, but because of difficult circumstances like an unexpected illness or a relational issue.
There’s a lot going on in our personal lives. Relationship crises, financial issues, health problems, family melt-downs. Heartache and heartbreak can be annoyingly present during the holidays, and we might feel even worse because we feel this special need to be merry.
So to the sobbing ones this season, what I’m proposing is that Christmas doesn’t only have one look. It doesn’t even need to have a look.
Christmas is the remembrance of love, and love doesn’t shy away from a mess. Christmas was never about the glitz or photo opportunities on gold sequin backdrops.
Come Christmas week, you may be sitting in silence with a heartbroken friend who can’t bring himself to attend yet another gathering.
Or you may actually be feeling love, joy and peace at your annual family party. Or you could be caught in the middle of your relatives, trying to stop another family fight from happening –again.
Whatever it is, do what you have to – do what you can.
Our circumstances aren’t all the same and one year can look very different from the next. So there’s no need to compare. Our lives aren’t judged by how much fun we have during Christmas week.
Christmas is the celebration of kindness, love, patience and gratitude.
“Can we buy the dancing snowman? Sarah* has one too.”
To this day, I still remember how much I wanted that dancing snowman and how happy I was to see the toy (I even remember where I saw it: Tanglin Mall) that was such a hit at my friend’s Christmas party.
Looking back, I must have associated the snowman with the experience at my friend’s house. I was envious of what my friend had, and I wanted the Christmas decorations, the laughter, and the fun too.
That’s why I wanted a dancing snowman.
But you know what? I’m glad my mum said no all those years ago. Because the snowman would have done little to meet my expectations anyway.
These days, I celebrate Christmas at home. It still doesn’t look like how I had imagined Christmas to look.
No tree, no dancing snowman, no turkey. But that’s okay. Because I know now that those things are just nice-to-haves.
Whenever the noise dies down, and I sit in the silence to ponder Christmastime and what it all means for me, I realise that the peace I carry in my heart has grown – year on year.
And that peace means the most to me. It has only grown the more time I spend with the person we’re celebrating – Jesus – whether I’m happy, hurting, anguished, successful, or on my knees.
Christmas is truest when Jesus is remembered (it’s His birthday, after all). And it’s best experienced with Him at the centre of everything – in the lows and in the highs. After all, He came so that we could live (John 3:16).
We don’t always have to look like we’re having a great time, but it’s okay to smile through the pain too if you’re going through a tough time this Christmas. We will be okay. Things will be okay.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
The message of Christmas is that we don’t have to do it all by yourself. We try to do so a lot — but we don’t have to.
Here’s how you can accept Jesus Christ into your heart through a simple prayer of faith:
“Lord Jesus, for too long I’ve kept you out of my life. I know that I am a sinner and that I cannot save myself. No longer will I close the door when I hear you knocking. By faith I gratefully receive your gift of salvation. I am ready to trust you as my Lord and Saviour.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for coming to earth. I believe you are the Son of God who died on the cross for my sins and rose from the dead on the third day. Thank you for bearing my sins and giving me the gift of eternal life. I believe your words are true. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus, and be my Saviour. Amen.”