Growing up, one of my favorite Christmas family traditions was going to the theater with my Dad, Mom, and sister to watch a live performance of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The ghost of Christmas future always scared little Jackie, but I loved experiencing the other Christmas memories of Scrooge and seeing how those memories impacted his heart throughout the course of the play. You don’t have to be a stingy old Scrooge visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future to become nostalgic and reflective during the holiday season. The smells and sounds of Christmas time are enough to cause anyone to reflect on past Christmas memories!
Last Christmas was the first time we spent Christmas at our home in Toledo. Until last year, my husband, children, and I always traveled home to be with family for the holiday. It was new and exciting to be able to decorate our home, cut down a live Christmas tree, and not have to brush off my geometry skills attempting to load three small children, gifts for extended family, and a week’s worth of luggage and diapers into the back of our minivan. But it was also a little bittersweet and sad as well. It was the first time in 30 years that I didn’t wake up in my parent’s home Christmas morning for a cozy day of gifts, food, family, and falling asleep to Christmas movies. It was also the first time we didn’t get to visit Grandma on Christmas Eve, and my husband didn’t get to eat Nana’s cinnamon rolls on Christmas day. Despite the joy and celebration, that Christmas felt a little strange and unfamiliar.
But even before last year, our Christmas seasons had experienced changes throughout the years. There were years where we saw cousins, siblings, or other relatives less as they got married and learned how to split time between families. There were years where we lost a grandpa, grandma, uncle, friend, or a great-grandma to cancer or sickness- sometimes even during the Christmas season. There were years where people moved and the homes we had always spent Christmas were no longer the places in which we celebrated.
There can be such coziness and nostalgia in remembering Christmases past: the warm memories of loved ones and Christmas traditions as they were before the big life changes occurred that we all encounter throughout our lives. And yet these memories can be bittersweet as well as we remember the way things used to be and the people we used to celebrate with who are no longer here.
Maybe for you, it isn’t the nostalgia of Christmas past that can make this season hard, but the longings of Christmas future. Hoping for a Christmas meal with a prodigal child as you pray and trust God to bring them home. Hoping for a Christmas morning filled with little footsteps and squeals of excitement as you pray for God to give you children of your own. Hoping for a home of your own to decorate as you trust God for something different than your tiny dorm room or apartment. Or hoping for years of Christmas traditions with someone as you pray and ask God for a spouse.
As we trust God to hear the desires of our hearts, and as traditions and relationships change over the years, what comfort we can have in knowing we serve a mighty God who never changes. He is always with us even when we long for a Christmas season that looks different than our reality. He is constant even when so many other things seem to be changing.
Hope In Christ
During this Christmas season, we look to the birth of Christ as a comforting reminder that this life is not all there is. A reminder that Christ came to die for our sins so that we can have eternal hope and eternal life. One day all of those who know Christ as their Savior will be rejoicing with Him for eternity in a place of hope, peace, and glory:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,
And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’
And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.”
No more death.
No more mourning.
No more crying.
No more pain.
These words are faithful and true.
What a glorious day it will be! Until that day comes, may we find peace and comfort in the everlasting hope of a little baby boy born in a manger in Bethlehem.