December 12, 2013

Turn Those Christmas Blues to Gold

Christmas is a joyous but also painful time for many. My nurse just told me that she wasn’t sure if she was going to put up her Christmas tree because it reminded her of her husband who recently died of cancer. Another young woman in our office is grieving her baby boy’s diagnosis of eye tumors. Over the holiday, she will bring him to the hospital for eye surgery and pray for him not to lose his sight. Christmas may feel like more of an annoyance than a celebration to her.

What is it about Christmas that makes us so sad? We see uplifting Christmas movies on television, advertisements of folks busily buying gifts for one another and we work hard at creating an atmosphere of celebration. Lights sparkle on doorways, candles light up windows and neighbors give one another cookies and chocolates. My neighbor pulls his sleigh out, hitches up two enormous draft horses and gives the neighbors rides through his fields. With so much delight abounding, why are we so blue?

After six decades, I think I’m beginning to understand. The sadness, I believe, comes from many places and from different levels. First, when we see delight around us, we are reminded what we don’t have. Grandma is no longer here to make her famous fudge, a father may have left and his kids are reminded that their friends have fathers who are still home. Loved ones get sick with terminal cancer and happy times tell us that others don’t have cancer, we do.

Then there’s the ache of longing for what we used to have. I ache for my mother and father at Christmas. Christmas day was my father’s favorite day of the year and he spent months thinking of unique gifts for each of us. My mother decorated every nook and cranny of our home. I see the look on their faces when we came down Christmas morning. I see my nephew sitting on my dad’s lap. We ache for what we have no more and we mourn what we never had- these are the roots of sadness at Christmas. But I think there is something deeper too.

There is a spiritual component that disturbs us. We are reminded that a beautiful man-God came and locked himself inside the body of a little girl only to be born so that he could die. That confounds us on a deep, spiritual level. We are not conscious of it, but the sadness of Christ’s birth hovers over us. I know that this is true for me. A perfectly innocent child brought into the world to be the ultimate scapegoat. The cruel nature of his story makes us think that God might be mean.

That is exactly why we must drive through the sadness and the blues-however deeply they have gripped us and move past them. And we can move past them. Christmas happened, Good Friday came but then- the fulfillment of the mission came Easter morning. The perfectly perfect baby grew up, died, collapsed under the weight of darkness and evil because of me and you. BUT then, he finished the story. He walked out of the tomb. With one blow, he crushed every sadness you and I have ever held onto. He turned our blues into pure gold.

I was speaking with a priest recently when I went to EWTN to film Life on the Rock. Father Mark looked at me after half an hour and said, “With so much pain and sadness out there, how do you stay so hopeful?” I simply looked at the cross on his wall and pointed to it.

“Easy,” I said. “We win.”

Christmas is about us winning. It is a joyous celebration in the midst of our sadness because it lets us know that sadness, the blues and death itself all go away. So this Christmas, when the blues move heavily into your heart, focus on this truth. They all go away. You and I know the end of the story and we’ve read the end of the book and it says to each one if us- don’t worry about anything- even death itself- because God has our back. He helps us win.

Merry Christmas friends


  1. Christmas was once the saddest time of the year for me. And it truly was because as a single mom (very poor) I was lonely and could not afford much for my son and I only wanted a husband to share life with. Now we have a little family (husband - step dad and all) but I am still sad. I think I will always be sad on Earth. I don't belong here and I feel it to my core. We just don't fit in as Christians. And that is good! I don't want anything this world has to offer. In short, the Christmas season is no big deal to me because I thank God for sending His son pretty much constantly all year long. Because He is my hope. My only hope.

  2. Please fix the typo in the 6th paragraph so I can share this! It is a great article but Jesus did not lock himself inside of a girl's body and I can't share it to my unsaved friends with that type of typo in it. Thanks!

  3. Oops, my typo! Paragraph 5! :-)

    1. Aww, confusing paragraph in my mind as I was seeing it as he was born into a girl's body...but I got it. I guess I don't see Mary as a 'little' girl. A young girl yes; little is still MY little girl at 10! Sorry; thanks for sharing this article. It is a great reminder to those of us who don't have as hard of a time at Christmas that it is a lonely, sad and difficult time for others.

  4. Summer, you took the words out of my mouth. Amen!


  6. Thank you so much for this. Christmas is always my favorite holiday. My son went to be with Jesus 14yrs ago due to Cancer at the age of 6. Now this Christmas we will be in the hospital with my husband having a brain tumor removed. I wasn't going to put up a tree or decor, but my children 8, 13 really wanted one. So we decorated full out. I want to trump darkness, and help them have the best Christmas ever. Because of the current condition of our family, there won't be presents to exchange with them like we usually do it...but they are learning this year that its not about the presents. It's about our family being together, love, and God's mercy and grace. Never take the mundane things of life for granted, for you make not like the alternative. To: Summer & Kaye we may not fit in this world as Christians, but we have a lot to offer this world- we live to be an example for others . Although some won't admit it the Joy of the Lord that is in us, they want. When they need something even if they don't believe they come to us and say please pray. So keep fighting the food fight of faith. ♥

  7. Very good article and comments! Thanks!!

  8. great article... praying for all the requests...God is good all the time...even in our losses we win in Jesus.