Outside of donuts and bacon for breakfast, I find Christmas disappointing.
In a weird way.
Things are good. Actually they’re great.
I have a wonderful wife.
Beautiful, healthy kids.
A great family.
A new Keurig.
More donuts and bacon.
Things are good.
But there’s a side of me that isn’t satisfied. That never says enough. It keeps searching for transcendence and rescue from my daily struggles.
This side builds the whole Christmas season into a giant expectation of syrupy awesome sauce spilling out my pores as I run down the sidewalk yelling “Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls!” and start to cry as I look into my kids eyes and we sing “Fah who for-aze! Dah who dor-aze! Welcome Christmas! Come this way!” and Tiny Tim says “God Bless us, everyone”. I then cry and just burst into sunbeams because nothing could ever be more awesome.
But usually I just feel tired. And bloated. And irritable.
Overloading on Christmas all month brings to the surface all the impatience, self-righteousness, self-obsession, arrogance and general lack of gratitude that I have managed to acquire. It shows me all the things I wish I wasn’t while reminding me how far I am from who I want to be. Disappointg.
And my great big expectations fall way short and I feel guilty.
But then I wonder if that’s not the point.
When we look at Christmas as a month of Hallmark movies, 24/7 Christmas radio and a weird obsession to provide 278 life-altering magical moments for our kids, it becomes annoying. Not because it’s bad, but because it’s a sentimental overload. Sentiment, like fiber, is healthy in smaller doses. But, like fiber, it can be overdone. When you’re on overload, you realize sentiment isn’t strong enough to stand on. Christmas carols, movies, cards and even family times start to run together into a syrupy mess losing it’s effect over time.
I’m not good enough for Christmas. I can’t be that soft and cuddly for that long.
On the flip side, Christmas sentiment isn’t strong enough to sustain me, even with donuts and bacon.
This doesn’t make it wrong, it just doesn’t make it strong.
When we build up Christmas, or anything for that matter, into a giant mountain of expectation, we set ourselves up for disillusionment because we realize it doesn’t work, it doesn’t meet our expectations.
Which is the whole point of Christmas.
We’re all searching for meaning and transcendence. When we get a taste of it in some form or fashion, we tend to latch on to it in a co-dependent way. Whether a job, marriage, family, dreams, person, project, or pleasure we look for rescue and redemption from our current state. But none of them seem to live up to the expectation.
Which makes me wonder if that’s part of why I believe in God. Because of my built-in need for transcendence, my understanding of how I fail to live up to it, and my need for something beyond myself to serve as redemption.
And that maybe, just maybe, that little baby really was something more than just a man, and offers us entrance into a kingdom that offers something much stronger and more lasting than mere sentiment.