When I listen to culture Christmas, I think that I need to be happy – the glitter wrapping on packages tied with bows kind of happy.
The culture happy that sends Christmas cards with photos that make it look like the past year was really easy.
The culture happy that gets dressed up and has energy to be at parties. The culture happy that ties a lasso to the moon and warms itself by the fireplace.
This year for my Ian and I, well, mostly me, can’t be a culture Christmas. Because that version is one that tells us our life should be a certain way, a way that it probably won’t ever be.
The culture version of Christmas sends us pictures of warm things, easy things, that life with a disability just doesn’t fit. And unless we just stop listening to that version, this “season” will be even sadder than what normal life feels like. A refusal of culture Christmas, things that are plenty fine for others but are stark reminders for us, means there won’t be any lights on our roof line. Our tree is up only because the one year old niece that lives with us needed it and her dad was willing to put it up. There isn’t the self- inflicted tug to “experience Christmas” and make memories and make every single gift handmade because the memories from Christmas’s before and the memories I had expected to be living in by now have created hollows in my heart.
Which has left me in the time of advent wondering how to live inside of Christmas when my heart is broken. How to live inside and among and beside the happy people whose hearts haven’t been broken yet and whose waiting has been lifted. How to grieve without guilt and hide in the safety of my home because everywhere else requests the impossible of me.
“It’s just like when you cup your child’s chin into your hands and lift their eyes to yours,” Joy said to me. She told me she used to do that when her boys were young so that she knew they were listening. She reminded me that I just needed to look up at Jesus, to know that he was cupping my chin in His own hands, asking me to look up at him. Asking me to never lose sight of his face.
She was intersecting me when the wounds in my heart were growing wider. I needed to look up.
But inside Christmas, inside Jesus Christmas, I don’t even have to do that. Inside this advent season that hurts, I just need to look down and see a tiny baby in a field and the woman who brought Him to us.
I don’t even have to lift my head – it can droop and still see; see the reason I have breath and the hope for my heart holes. My tired gaze just needs to drift down and yet my eyes will find the savior of the world.
When I see this Jesus Christmas, and when I see this labored-for life swaddled into his mama, I see that the Culture Christmas doesn’t have to be inside our little bungalow this year. We can be fine without it and instead just live within Jesus.