Christmas is indeed an exciting time of the year! Seemingly the mood of the entire nation is elevated. People speak with more happiness. Life seems to be so much better. However, this is not really true for everyone. There are some who are hoping that Christmas will bring happiness and joy, but who are very sad and lonely. I can remember countless people who have been affected by sadness and loneliness at this time of year.
I recall someone I knew quite well in my early years as a minister at Marble Church. Her name was Lorie. One day Lorie asked if she could stay after church, hoping to talk with a minister – and I was the one who happened to be there. Lorie began to tell me a story of her mother dying when she was five years old and how a mean aunt took responsibility for her, while resenting every moment. The aunt made life miserable for this young child. Lorie always did what she was asked – chores, errands – while having such animosity with just about everything she was involved with. In the upcoming years I spent considerable time with Lorie, mostly listening. But Christmas was always the worst for her.
Then there came a day when she had enough eternal strength to separate herself from her aunt. Now Lorie was really alone. She did have a good job, but no friends. Then one day she was transferred from NYC to Washington. Christmas was close, so I asked her how she was going to spend the day and she said “I am praying about it.” A couple of days after Christmas she called me and her voice was more upbeat than ever. Lorie told me about her Christmas. She said, “Christmas is supposed to be joyous and I made it that way by having the best Christmas ever.” Lorie said she planned the day by buying special holiday foods like turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and pumpkin pie for dessert. Then she spent the rest of the day reading religious literature and spiritual books. When she described her day to me, she said, “I was going to make Christmas a great day and it was.”
The impressive thing to me was that Lorie made a choice - and the choice was to have a great Christmas and celebrate it, even if it meant being alone. And she did.
Many of us will have sadness this Christmas, but I hope you are attentive to what Lorie did. She knew she had a choice either to celebrate or be sad and she turned it around.
There is power in the Christmas spirit. We celebrate the birth of Jesus, the one who really fills one’s life and can change the course of a life.
Let Christmas this year be a joyous celebration and thanksgiving.