I have to admit that the amount of Christmas spirit I have this year has been slim to none.
There is no Christmas tree in my house, and Christmas music does not ring out from my sound system. I pass by my neighbors’ Christmas displays and feel nothing.
I am mentally exhausted. The patented headaches I suffer from have increased in frequency and intensity. I find myself wanting to withdraw from people more now than at any point in my life, and I can’t figure out why.
I am 30 years old and facing the prospect that I may very well not find my future wife in the area in which I currently live. I am bombarded on social media with posts and photos of friends and their significant others enjoying the holiday season. I try to be happy for them, but largely cannot.
Many other circumstances have led to this Christmas season becoming one I would rather pass by. It all culminated yesterday when I had to force myself to participate in our town’s Christmas parade.
It is easy to temporarily hide the exhaustion, put on a smile and go out in public. I did just that, knowing I would go back home right afterward and things would be the way they were before.
Our group in the parade passed hand warmers to people in the crowd. Several received them with enthusiasm, especially young kids who probably thought the bag contained a ridiculously large piece of candy.
I came across a boy who was shivering somewhat in the cool weather. I asked him if he wanted one, and he paused for a second before replying, “That’s okay. Give one to someone who needs it more than I do.”
As the parade went on, my mind kept going back to the boy and his words that shined more brightly than any lights on the parade entries. I returned to my car after the event ended and sat there for a couple minutes to reflect.
“…someone who needs it more than I do.”
Those words made me realize a central truth: even through my own struggles, there are people in this world struggling with entirely more stark situations. Some have lost loved ones, others are seeking employment, and still others are about to miss a rent payment because they had to choose between sustenance and shelter.
I looked back on my own problems and realized they seem pretty trivial after that. I began to pray that the Lord would bring his joy back to me and enable me to share it with others, and immediately after that prayer something stirred within me.
I don’t know who that kid was, and I don’t even much remember what he looked like. Maybe that is the way it should be, because after all, his words indicated that his gesture wasn’t about him in the first place.
That kid very well saved my Christmas and made me focus on what really matters. I am thankful to God for such a simple, perspective-changing encounter that served as a catalyst to truly enjoy this holiday season.
Merry Christmas to everyone out there, and today I can say that and truly mean it.