Last week, as a staff, we talked about what Christmas means to us and the traditions we have in our families at Christmas time.
I was surprised that it turned into quite an emotional time. One teacher talked about how before they open any presents on Christmas morning they have a family prayer time where they pray for all of those family members who have died. Another teacher became very emotional talking about how this would be her first Christmas without her Mum. Still another staff member talked about how her children have all moved away overseas so now Christmas is quite a lonely day for her and her husband.
I had my own little emotional blip this morning. I'm going through a relationship break-up at the moment and I was fine all morning until I went to assembly and heard the children practicing their Christmas carols. Silent Night and Away in the Manger made me quite teary. I also always get a bit emotional at Midnight Mass. There's something about certain Christmas carols that always leaves me feeling sad.
Christmas is meant to be the most joy-filled time of the year. So why are so many of the carols so sad? Why does it leave people feeling more lonely than on any other day? Why does it lead us to think of people we have lost? We had a tragic drowning here in the lake last week and the most common thing I've heard people saying is, "How sad, right on Christmas." Somehow Christmas amplifies our grief.
It's a strange kind of feast day really. It's about the coming of God as man to live amongst us. There can be no greater gift. Yet in our happiness lies a special kind of sadness too. Maybe it's because we focus too much on the stuff that's not about Jesus? We focus on family and relationships and presents rather than just Jesus? Or maybe it's because the strongest way we can meet Christ is through others, and so Christmas aplifies our relationships, or lack of?
What do you think? Does Christmas have an element of sadness for you? And what's the best way through it?