I hate the holidays.
That’s how I’ve largely felt for my entire life. Too many disruptions, too much anxiety, too many expectations. Too many social situations.
When I was six years old, I had an anxiety attack on Christmas morning. I had to go lay down and drink a glass of water. As a high schooler, it seemed that bad things happened to people around the holidays. Illness, accidents and the like. As a college student, I could not in good conscience feel happy at Christmas with so much injustice in the world.
This year, Christmas has snuck up on me. The holiday season has barely blipped on my generally full radar screen or neuroses. I’ve been too busy – searching for the perfect gift(s) for loved ones, reconnecting with old friends, rediscovering old creative interests, trying to offer a hand where I can.
The strangest thing has happened – this year I’ve enjoyed Christmas.
“Fear not, and behold. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.”
Christ the Savior was born. The one who would make the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers clean, the deaf hear. The one that would raise the dead. The one who would sit with the foreigner, the orphan, the widow. The Lamb of God.
If you were here with me right now, you would see a slow smile spread across my face as I think of this Jesus, coming into our dirty world to make us clean and heal us and protect us, to destroy the work of the devil. You might think I was reflecting on a profound theological truth or discerning some sage insight into our existence.
What you would not expect would be my pure nerdish joy at this Jesus, whom I picture as a cross between the Fonz standing up for Richie Cunningham and Superman flying through the air to meet a meteor headed to Metropolis. I see the meteor’s momentum slow and reverse as Superman saves us from our certain demise. In my heart, these images are joy embodied.
I see this Jesus standing in heaven with the ones that we’ve lost this year, I see him handing a coat and a burger to the mentally ill man who walks by my office every day. I see him digging a well for clean water in Gulu. I see him praying over a friend’s baby bump. I see him whispering in the ear of the hopeless, convincing them to keep trying.
He’s my brother and Lord, he’s a lamb and Superman, and we have put up LED lights on and around our houses to celebrate his birthday. And that’s all cool with me.
Merry Christmas to you and yours.