Christmases come and go, the same message but with a different meaning.
I leave behind for the moment the Christmases pre-release my parents’ home. I was so bright and shiny in many ways in that I was able to shut out the ghosts of days past and look to my ideal of Christmas. Christmas was celebration, not of the gifts and the glamor, the shopping and the showmanship, but of Christ Himself being born a man to start a new life for us and him. My Christmas cards and the way I celebrated the season with people always reflected a message along these lines.
I didn’t buy individual gifts, but I thought it best to concentrate on things that helped people celebrate the season–typically with homemade fudge alongside godly Christmas cards and a home decked out to welcome and cheer guests. I joined in Christmas parties that were white elephant or ornament swap games, because I found it only brought people down, thinking that I wouldn’t enjoy myself unless I joined in.
I spent many happy years looking forward to Christmas and enjoying every aspect of it, particularly all the white lights, green garland, and glittering ornaments I could afford to string in my home. I spent many happy years bursting with excitement to be in church every minute of it I could.
Trauma is not just a thing of veterans and childhood abuse though. Trauma can happen among those you called friends, within the church, with trying health problems, and the fallout of childhood abuse. I don’t know if there was ever a Christmas since the time I was out on my own that I did not celebrate in some way, but with time the season lost its savor.
Times have changed me. The church no longer beckons me. The decorating is something I often dread. No longer do I make fudge or homemade celebratory items. I have turned to shopping often, though some of the homemade goes on. My Christmas cards, though with godly message, are a bit more neutral concerning Christ. I am a bit more neutral concerning Christ.
Trauma is both insidious and encompassing. Things you never thought could or should harm you emotionally and mentally do, sometimes without your realizing it.
However, I leave you with these thoughts. First, recognize the effects of trauma for you in this season of “good cheer.” There is no shame for you if Christmas isn’t all that you hoped. Second, celebrate in your own way as you can. What makes you happy and what can you do to make someone close to you happy–perhaps reaching out to that other someone who struggles with the season. Third, find a way, even if ever so small, to remember Christ who understands in fullness of body and spirit what it is to be cut off from all that is holy and comforting.
My house is decked out this moment with ribbon, garland, lights, and ornaments. My Christmas card is cheerfully beautiful and meaningful in a small way. My nativity is spread along my mantle. My gifts, though bought and inexpensive, are still given with personal messages in the cards and affection in my heart.
Christmas day won’t be the holy holiday it once was to me as I stay home all day in pajamas and bed, curled up with my cuddly cat, watching Christmas movies, and eating per no schedule nor healthy rhyme or reason. However, I can be thankful to God for His provision of all of it, gracing me with celebrating as I know how at this stage of my life.