Today, I’m sharing a guest post by blogger Alison Martin. As you will see in this post, Alison is a talented writer who also works as a nurse. She writes about her life on her blog, Under Seven Stars. Enjoy!
“Tender Tennessee Christmas” by Amy Grant wafts through the air, invoking deep inside me a feeling of nostalgia so strong I want to burst into tears. I can’t explain it, the flood of memories this song brings to me, the sadness…
I am seven, and we are going to the cabin for the week between Christmas and New Year’s. It is snowy and evergreeny and exciting, and there’s a fire at the cabin—love surrounds me in the form of my favorite cousins, my uncles and aunts, and a new Precious Moments nightie—made by my Grandma and matching all the other girl cousins’…
I am nine and riding in the back of the family minivan with my mom and dad in the front talking, while we drive on a dark Sunday evening through a winter wonderland of snow and sparkling Christmas lights. We are driving to a church where my dad will preach this evening. My mom’s favorite Christmas album by Amy Grant croons through the air. I am warm, and I am safe, and I am loved…
I am ten, and I am curled up on the couch the afternoon before Christmas eve. We had school that day, and we tramped through the cold in our coats and boots and mittens to Christmas carol and pass out Christmas cookies to the neighbors. We opened presents back at school, and I got a fuzzy burgundy blanket, so soft, from my favorite teacher ever (who ended up being my brother-in-law three years later). That afternoon I read Alice in Wonderland and sucked on a candy cane while wrapped in my new blanket in my favorite corner in the living room. Contentment was so easy…
I am eleven and waking up to a snowy day after Christmas and feeling excited about every single one of my gifts and the love that prompted my family to buy them for me. Especially thrilling was the little red camera my dad had picked out for me himself…
I am nineteen, and I am in the van once again with my parents, driving through our neighborhood decked with lights. I am burned out from working with my dementia residents in the nursing home every day, the ones who are dying… I am surprised that I don’t feel the Christmas magic I usually feel as we complete this yearly tradition. I mention this, asking why Christmas feels so shallow when once it felt so wide and deep? My dad answers and says philosophically that that’s how life is when you grow up, and that’s why you need to have children so you can see it deep and wide again, through their eyes.
And I am twenty-three, and I don’t have any children, so I can’t see Christmas through their eyes. I don’t have a dad to tell me comfortingly that that’s how life is, and I wonder again why Christmas feels so shallow when it once felt so deep and wide. Nostalgia makes me want to cry, because where is that tender Christmas I used to know? Why do I feel like December will fly by in a flurry of deadlines and stress?
What does “peace on earth” mean as I watch people die in my work at the hospital or brush with those who are sick and wish they could die or watch those left behind try to cover up their loneliness in this happiest time of the year? It’s all shallow, and I am not seven. I can see now behind the tinsel and the music. I can see that it’s a cover, and Christmas joy is a myth. The world in this month is the same as it is the rest of the year.
Shallow, swiftly passing, painful.
But Mary brought forth a Son in pain, and there wasn’t even room for them in the inn. This is the world we live in, where there sometimes isn’t room for us in the inn, and we huddle outside alone. We huddle alone in our tense thoughts while the world celebrates around us. We forget that this is why the Savior was born. Not for the happy and whole, but for the world that is alone and in pain.
And then I remember that, after all, Christmas was never about glittering perfection. A perfect world did not need a Savior. This world I live in—this world lacking peace, this world where death over-rules love and pain is the name of the game—this is the world that needed a Savior. Christmas was never about the feelings of excitement and everything merry and bright.
Unto us a child is born… A small baby, not able to speak healing to all the nations yet, but a baby is born. Hope is given to us. Hope and the promise of peace. And there is my Christmas, deep and wide… My Christmas gift is hope and here is my peace. The dead will live again…
And one day He will wipe away the tears that cloud our vision, and we will see again through the eyes of a child.
This is beautiful, Alison.
I’ve been there as far feelings that you have had. I think the common theme that you were experiencing was feeling protected – that those around you would make sure that you were not touched by people who might want to hurt you. When we grow up – we realize number one -that our “protectors” can’t always protect us and two that if we stay in our “safe zone” we lose out on opportunities to experience life and serve others. ALSO that now we are in the position to protect those weaker than we are and suddenly we realize how vulnerable we are. So I dont think it has much to do with the losing the Christmas spirit -it has to do with our bodily memories getting confused with our mental memories and thinking they are the same thing.
this. yes. yes!
A nice thought provoking post, that was well worth sharing!
Beautiful thoughts! I definitely want to share this!
Oh, I’ve so been there – I’m glad I’m not the only one! Thank-you :’)
This was my version of a similar struggle: https://handmaidsdistaff.wordpress.com/2018/12/24/theodicy/
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