Christmas is always a conflicted season for me. It is a time I think a lot about death, actually.
I’m not trying to be depressing, but there is a deep connection between the beginning and end of life.
Maybe it’s because the story of Christmas is the story of childbirth. And for every woman, childbirth is a giant emotional rollercoaster.
The more I connect with the Christmas story – the more I connect with Mary – the more aware I become of what she must have experienced … the fear, pain, and insecurity of giving birth for the first time. In an unknown, uncomfortable, unwelcoming place. Apart from family, away from home and with a man who’s not yet her husband. She’s hormonal.
As a woman who’s birthed two children naturally, I can barely imagine what that experience was like for her.
The cross and all that was to come cast its shadow over every moment of Jesus’ life. From the beginning, from the moment she laid him in the manger, his death was a reality.
Maybe it’s also because of the anniversary of my dad’s death. Today. Two days after Christmas.
When he was sick, it overshadowed the entire Christmas season and now every Christmas season is lined with the memories of that awful, terrible year. Christmas will never be free from remembering what it was like to try to celebrate the birth of Jesus while simultaneously watching my dad’s life slip away. It was a like a freight train that I was powerless to stop.
So every year when we pull out the Christmas stuff, out come the memories of trying to stop that train.
And I suppose in some ways, thinking about death at the same time as birth is helpful. It reminds me that life here on earth is temporary. It begins and it ends – sometimes traumatically. At either end.
But bottom line … life here on earth is just a phase. It’s not forever.
Thank God he is eternal and doesn’t change. Ever.
And this is the thing I come back to during this season, especially in the dark moments. This is my anchor … the beautiful hope of heaven and eternal life. The truth that one day death will cease to even be a thing. Because death is only a part of this life.
It’s not forever.