Christmas may be a time for songs of joy and peace, but there is something about Christmas that makes so many feel like they had Joni Mitchell’s river to skate away on.
In spite of all of its magic, Christmas can be quite melancholy.
In spite of a Christmas baby being born to set debtors free, the so-called Christmas spirit can drive the most sane shopper into taking on debt in order to have just the perfect gift underneath the tree.
In spite of the free gift of Christmas being life eternal coming down from Heaven in the form of a baby boy, we have adopted the folklore that Christmas is only available to those who have improved their naughty status to nice.
By the time we early shoppers arrive at December 24, skating away on a river seems like a perfectly viable option when faced with the reality of reacquainting ourselves with the Cousin Eddie’s of our lives. Like Christmas poinsettias, they only come around once a year, but, oh Buddy!
The magical feelings that are experienced during the anticipation of Christmas seem to turn blue in the silence of the holiest hour. The stillness brings wet eyes of tenderness toward something we try hard to identify.
Suddenly, the clock has told us that shopping must cease. The cooking is not going to get any further along. The familiar assembly is gathered once again where love must sometimes find a way to stare pain eye to eye. A loved one has said goodbye. An old wound, once thought buried, is fresh once again. All the Christmas wishes in the world cannot solve the mysteries of the shattered dreams that were once at the forefront of an existence that is feeling pretty lame in comparison to the glitter of the moment.
Perhaps, the greatest bondage of all is the shackle of a debt we cannot pay. Though there is great truth in the notion that holding a debt against a neighbor is a poison that will kill the soul, this is something that can be released by the unforgiving captor to free himself.
On the other hand, the most helpless estate in life, to me, is the debt of being unforgiven. For we can only go so far as to forgive ourselves when we have strayed off course, but the choice of our captor in forgiving us is in their hands. Guilty or innocent though we may be, we can do nothing except submit to the life sentence of condemnation. There is no hope within our own power.
But it’s coming on Christmas, the Holy Spirit begins to stir. The cold wind blows, but joy, love, and peace with an unseen God are slowly ushered in with all the pageantry of winter. The Christmas baby is with us and the star is neatly hung on the tree.
This baby we sing about is no ordinary child. He is here to set every prisoner free from the shackles of an unforgiving captor. He is drawing his lines in the sand. He is wiping away every tear and giving new life as His eternal gift.
Many will say that Christmas is for families, traditions, and holiday cheer. Others will say that Christmas is for giving. I will say that Christmas is forgiving. For the captor, it is forgiving those who have wronged you. For the captive, it is a forgiving from this Jesus, this Christ-child who became a man to pay our debt. He has come to lovingly hold your head high when no one else will.
Merry Christmas, Dear Reader. From my desk to yours.
Read Brandi’s column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette.