It’s the question on everyone’s minds and lips.
What are you doing for Christmas this year?
We know what we want to do for Christmas. We want to do what we’ve done every year. To engage in the traditions we’ve devoted ourselves to since before we can remember. To take the annual family picture. To adhere to our own tribe’s strict present opening timelines and rituals. To eat the figgy pudding or Aunt Marie’s fudge or cousin Tom’s special Chex Mix or whatever food only gets trotted out this time of year. To hold a candle in a crowded church while singing Silent Night.
That’s what we want to do for Christmas.
But as virus rates rise, shut-down orders appear across the country and pleas to curb travel increase, we realize that we probably aren’t going to get the Christmas we want. Not if we want to keep the people we love the most safe and healthy. And we do want that.
There are actually a lot of things we want for Christmas this year.
What we want is a world where masks aren’t required and hugs make a comeback.
We want a world where hospitals aren’t overflowing and healthcare workers burned out, exhausted and felled by grief.
We want a world where parents are not having to work from home while serving as hall monitor, tutor and chief tech support for their children who are learning from home.
We want a world where teachers can do legit planning because they know what their classroom will look like next week.
We want a world where the lines at food banks and soup kitchens are getting shorter, not longer.
We want a world where people can go to work and get paid a fair wage for their labors.
In a world where the Rolling Stones ubiquitous hit has never rung quite so true, we’re not getting what we want for Christmas. We’re not doing what we want for Christmas.
That really sucks.
It’s okay to feel that, and it’s okay to say that…because it’s true. This really sucks (or stinks, if you’re talking to your kids, and you’ve told them not to use that word).
But even in the midst of not doing or getting what we want for Christmas, Advent is happening. Advent is calling on us to envision a world where hope floats, peace abounds, joy is infectious and love wins. Advent continues that call even if we are despondent, disgruntled and depressed.
No matter what we do for Christmas, the baby Jesus gets born. The magnificent Maker of us all becomes one of us–fully human and fully God.
Whether we are able to spread Christmas cheer by singing loud for all to hear, or we’re doing well just to get off the couch this holiday season, it is unto ALL of us that a child is born.
Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently based in New York City. Doubting Believer provides tools and encouragement for the rollercoaster ride of your faith journey. Follow me on Facebook , Instagram and YouTube. Get emails to keep up with all that is happening.