I have never experienced a Christmas like this one.
It is the first Christmas that I won’t spend with my family, enjoying meals and doing group unboxings. I won’t sing with a church choir. No “Silent Night” in a candlelit church.
No decorating the church. Nothing. Just me and the decorations that I have put up in my own living space. Does that feel lonely and sad? Well, actually, yes.
But how about if I reframed it? How about if I look for the uniqueness of the moment, instead of the unpleasantness of the current situation? Can I do it? Why not? As the Little Engine that Could kept saying, “I think I can. I think I can.”
I think that I will stick with children’s literature here and go right to one of my most favorite authors of all time. Doctor Seuss. After all, he wrote one of the most insightful books about Christmas, “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.” And doesn’t it seem as if some Grinch has stolen Christmas?
Well, except for the fact that the Grinch never actually stole Christmas. That’s not to say that he didn’t try to steal Christmas. He grabbed the food and the tinsel and the trees and the gifts and even the roast beast, and he put them in his sleigh and he took them all away.
The Grinch believed that stealing the things that are associated with Christmas would cause the people of Who-ville to become very sad. He also believed that their sadness would make him happy because his heart was two sizes too small.
Today, the thing that is trying to steal the joy from Christmas isn’t a green Grinch with a wicked grin and a tiny heart, but a worldwide pandemic that is going out of control. Instead of the things disappearing from our world, it’s the people who are vanishing. We can still talk to them but we can’t touch them. We can’t have meals with them. We can’t gather in a room or in a church and sing and laugh and do all of the things that we call celebration.
We can’t celebrate Christmas or Hannukah or Kwanzaa or the Winter Solstice or any number of the usual holidays in the way that we have done for years and years and years. We have to adjust to the current reality.
This is where the reframing comes in. For me, this advent and Christmas season is unique because I’ve never experienced anything like it. Advent is a season of longing and of waiting. And, as I sit in my own space, I am experiencing both longing and waiting.
Christmas will come, without parties and without choirs and without organs and tinsel and trappings. It will come, as surely as it did in Who-ville, where the people gathered under the bare tree and sang the song that they sang every year.
I am choosing creativity over despair. I am choosing hope over hopelessness and creativity over inertia. I choose to sing alone during this different and unique Christmas because, for me, not singing is not an option. Because I remember that it wasn’t the tinsel or the gifts or the roast beast that caused the Grinch’s heart to grow three sizes. It was the joyful singing.
Just one voice will shatter the darkness. Be that voice.