The Holidays are wonderful!
The Holidays are…hard.
Nothing tugs at the heart quite like this time of year. For me personally, I feel the tug the most when it comes to my family. My whole family lives in Nevada and Utah, two states that happen to be very far from here. It’s so painful to be away from them during the Holidays. If I have to hear Bing Crosby croon “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams…” one more time, I swear I will run completely out of tears. For some of you, it’s a difficult time for other reasons. Maybe you have lost someone dear, and you’d give anything to know they were only a few states away right now. Maybe your family is splintered through broken relationships, with no restoration in sight. Maybe there is sickness or job loss. Maybe you long for a family of your own, and this time of year causes an even deeper sense of loneliness and heartbreak.
Nostalgia and tradition can be a double-edged sword, can’t they? They are fabulous friends until circumstances shift and they no longer can have their way. Tradition is hardly flexible, and nostalgia has no grace for the new… so how do we find joy in this season when traditions fail us and nothing is the same as it was? Or when our carefully laid plans are shoveled away like heaps of sidewalk snow?
I think the answer lies in this: we must keep doggedly flinging our doors wide open.
When we can’t be with our own loved ones, we can welcome in others who can’t be with theirs either. When invitations go unanswered, we can pass them along to those who won’t be receiving any others. When the doors of our hearts slam tight in sadness and fear, we must prop them open enough to receive the love and care we need from those around us.
In the opening of our doors, we find something better than tradition. We find joy and comfort for the right here and right now. And just as the Christmas story began with an inn keeper flinging his stable doors wide open to a young couple whose plans were turned completely upside-down, we too can find a miracle in the most unexpected, topsy-turvy places.
So, as the Holidays approach, let’s remember to look for those who need a door opened wide to them. Let’s reach out and allow others to come near, even when it would be easier to shut ourselves off. Let’s include the hurting and the broken. Let’s set an extra place at the table, make an extra helping of food. I think that in doing so, we will find our own sorrows softened, and our Holiday hopes slowly, gently, restored.