What if it Doesn’t Feel Like Christmas? By Emilee Kurt

What if it Doesn’t Feel Like Christmas? By Emilee Kurt

Last year, my husband and I moved across state lines the week before Christmas. I remember sitting in the living room of our new 1-bedroom apartment and feeling squished in uncomfortable accent chairs getting ready to unwrap our Christmas gifts. The season felt ill-fitting and rootless. My nerves were raw from all the hurt I was carrying. I was going through such a season of desperation internally and externally that during many quiet times I would just stroke the leather binding of my Bible, and reread the same verses again and again:


“You have fed them with the bread of tears
and given them tears to drink in full measure.
You make us an object of contention for our neighbors,
and our enemies laugh among themselves.
Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved!”
— Psalm 80:5-7

No matter how you come into this month, I know that you have expectations - for your husband, for yourself, for your kids, for your home, for your in-laws. Sometimes these expectations are a thrill of anticipation, of travel, of using your creativity in gift-giving, and treasured traditions. But, often, there are unseen struggles and relationship dynamics in our lives that change the way we sing “Joy to the World”. Friend, my hope is that your heart could be light. I wish that all your winter evenings were filled with twinkle lights, hot chocolate in your favorite mug, vinyl records of your favorite Christmas songs, and wrapping gifts at a slow, peaceful pace. But if you are filled with dread, guilt, or anxiety that is only heightened by the pressure of wanting to have fun all month long - you are not alone.

Last December held no decorations, no Advent devotional, and little traditions for me. My Mom was so sick from chemo treatments that she couldn’t be next to my Dad, my husband, and I on Christmas Eve as we sang Silent Night over candlelight. We didn’t get to our annual baking day, and there weren’t as many games of cards with chocolate and Chex mix nearby. But I clung to the Prince of Peace and forged an intimacy with Him that can never be taken away from me.

We all know that there is a cultural weight to Christmas that is often life-giving—lights, presents, Santa, dinner parties—and deep down we know that these things don’t add to our identity. They bring joy and connection, sure, but we know they are “add ons” to the celebration of God Incarnate. But, when we don’t have the emotional or physical energy to go into that group of people or host that event or travel a few extra hours, shame can eat us up because “Christmas shouldn’t feel like this” or “I should just pull it together”. We can mistake our missed traditions for missing Christ. You don’t have to work to achieve that warm and fuzzy winter feeling, because friend - that was never the goal. You get to celebrate the Son of God coming to earth. You can wake up early and crawl back into bed with your Bible, even if all you can do is cry with it in your lap. You can take a deep breath and now that He enters every room you have to face this month with you. You can celebrate the God that has put skin on and entered our grimy, sinful world. And perhaps, being in a valley will help you see the truth of this celebration even clearer: the world is desperate for Jesus, and God graciously sent Him to us. He took mercy on us and has lavished us with His love. He is not a God that can not sympathize with our weaknesses, He is a God moved to compassion in His gut when He sees His children hurting. Let your need and your hurt drive you to dependence on Christ. In this bare-minimum Christmas, I pray that you’ll discover that He was all you truly needed all along.

If you find yourself moving to a different state in December or with less time on your hands post-grad or frustrated from an empty nest, you still get to celebrate this good news of great joy. It’s okay if celebrating looks different this year. Because it was never about our manufacturing of a holiday, but always about King Jesus coming to us in the humblest of ways.

Whatever December looks like for you —

You still get to sing Joy To The World.

Jesus did not empty Himself and become a baby because the world was full of joy without Him.

Let the weary world rejoice because He has come and He is coming again!

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1 comment

Thank you for this. This year is the second year I won’t be spending Christmas Day with my family. I am alright with that because it’s not about me or them it’s about Jesus. We just need to remember this. Have a Merry Christmas.

Alisabeth Jordan

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