A Beautiful Letdown

I recall the feeling even when I was very young.

The letdown.

Christmas Eve was so very special because it was all candlelight, music, and anticipation. Christmas Eve was magical and pregnant with beauty. Christmas Eve was an unopened gift bursting with promise.

Christmas morning arrived, showing off in a flurry of wrapping paper, bows, coffee for dad, shouted thank you’s, hugs, and squeals of excitement.

But then, all too quickly, everything was open. Every gift bestowed. The turkey, a carcass. The squeals, bloated moans underscoring the afternoon football game on TV.

No hidden surprises. Nothing waiting to be opened, forgotten, and perhaps more valuable, more exciting than all the rest. Christmas afternoon spread out on the bed with a cigarette and blew smoke rings around my hopes for more.

Even if it was everything I wanted piled up neatly on the stairs to be brought to my room and put away, even if, it was still not enough magic to carry over past Christmas dinner.

I remember staring out of the car window on the way home from visiting relatives trying to recapture the magic of Christmas Eve but finding only a gray mist in my spirit where joy should have danced a while more.

I feel that this year.

The tragic headlines couldn’t even let the sun set on Christmas day before announcing sadness, fire, gunplay, and the twisted irony of loved ones killed by those they love on Christmas morn. A little girl gone missing, found in a dumpster. A grandfather dying within reach of the granddaughter he was trying to save. Businesses scheduled to close because the holiday shopping was not enough to save the jobs of those trying so hard behind the Christmas displays.

We can’t even hold it together past Christmas morning anymore before exposing ourselves as a species unable to save itself from itself.

We bathed in candlelight on Christmas Eve, singing carols, watching movies, and wrapping gifts. For a few short hours we fooled ourselves into thinking we might do – humanity might just be able to save itself.

But, no. We were failures before sunrise. We don’t have the answers, the resources, the words, or the power to create, purchase, or wrap anything that even resembles a solution to what is wrong with this world.

Like the winter woods, now gray, barren, and exposed after the leaves have dropped from the trees and before the lovely coat of snow, we are laid bare and found wanting.

But, there is a truth, greater even then than the headlines on the evening news.

In the letdown of the holiday, know this truth: that when the candles have been extinguished, the gifts set aside, and the leftovers tossed out, the truth of salvation born at Christmas remains.

It is not just the words to Handel’s Messiah, soundtrack for Christmas shopping, it’s the eternal truth that will never let down nor disappoint and holds as much power and magic today as it did on Christmas Eve. It is the morning after truth of Christmas that when Santa leaves, Jesus remains.

It is this:

“The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.

You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
when dividing the plunder.

For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.

Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.

The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:2-7

Happy December 27th, everyone. Welcome the beautiful letdown after Christmas. It just may lead you to a higher truth. When all else is gone, Jesus remains.

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    The Conversation

  1. Your post is so true. We were in church Sunday morning when we got a prayer request for a sister of one of our members who was in the attack of the Moslems in Nigeria. We went to my son-in-laws mothers home for dinner after church only to have the meal interrupted by the police.Scott, my son-in-law’s sister was rushed to a hospital. We have only Jesus to lean on.
    Glenda Parker

  2. Praise God, Jesus remains!