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Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

December 13, 2022

Have yourself a merry little Christmas;
Let your heart be light.

Isn’t it interesting how the greatest seasons of joy and celebration are often also the heaviest times of year? Maybe it’s just getting older, or being exposed to more hurt in the world, but I find this to be especially true as Christmas approaches each year.

As many of us make plans with family and friends to celebrate, we’re reminded of fractured relationships—the parents who feel neglected, the siblings we just can’t agree with, and the children who have rebelled and chosen to spend Christmas somewhere else. While many look forward to the holidays, many of the gatherings have an undercurrent of sadness as the relationships around the table are not as strong or loving as they could be.

And it’s not just relationships. As we work through gift lists this year, many of us are feeling the financial burden of inflation. Perhaps it’s weighing especially heavy as you look at your kids’ wishlists and realize that you just can’t afford to get them what they want this year. Though you know there’s more to this season than presents, you worry your children will be sorely disappointed.

Relationships. Financial Strain. Not to mention unrealized dreams. The year is almost over, and many of us are burdened by the things we didn’t do or goals we didn’t accomplish. We wonder if we did enough, or if this year is another one where we didn’t quite measure up to our own standards or the ones set by those around us.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Oftentimes the weight feels heavy. 

So the line in the song that tells us to “let your heart be light” might feel like an impossible task.

But let’s take a step back together and imagine an even more chaotic Christmas than the one you might be experiencing today.

Imagine Mary on a donkey, traveling the five-day road from Nazareth to the small town of Bethlehem. She feels each crack and rock on the road beneath her and holds herself steady on the donkey at nine months pregnant. On the dusty road, her stomach churns as she considers the census ordered, and the taxes she and Joseph will have to pay before the birth of their baby. Finally, Mary and Joseph arrive in Bethlehem only to find that there is nowhere to stay. Mary’s heart sinks, and the contractions start. The only place to go is a filthy stable, full of animals, dirt, feces, and hay. The stench is pungent, and the setting is unfit to welcome the King of the universe, but nonetheless, his cries pierce the night.

Perhaps, Mary felt like she had failed Jesus already, as she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and placed him in a manger. To her, the first Christmas must have felt overwhelmingly chaotic.

So, what did it take for Mary to keep her heart light? I wonder if as she looked into Jesus’s little eyes, it caused her to stop, rest, and remember the hope promised through the birth of her son.

During this Christmas season, take some time to stop, rest, and remember the reason you’re celebrating. I hope you’ll find comfort as you navigate the sadness and disappointments that can come from the burdens of this time of year. It’s not always easy, but it’s a good reminder: let your heart be light.


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