A Bittersweet Christmas Special

Bittersweet Christmas

Hello, my dear readers,

Today is a holiday special because it’s Christmas Eve. Some of you are celebrating, some are grieving the loss of loved ones, some are exhausted from the past year, some are excited, some are unhappy, and some are all of the above. Is your Christmas mug half empty or half full?
( ˘︹˘ )

The title of the song, “Hard Candy Christmas,” sung by Dolly Parton is a good analogy of a Christmas with mixed emotions. I’ve never seen the musical or movie, “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” in which it debuted, so I don’t know the context in that respect, but I do appreciate this beautiful song.

The very first Christmas didn’t have images of smiling snowmen, cute penguins, or fun reindeer to balance the downsides. So let’s open to chapter 2 of the Gospel of Luke and reflect on how bittersweet the Christmas story was.

The first line of the story of Jesus’ birth is Luke 2:1, “And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.” Already the tone is set that a government leader has exerted his power, causing an inconvenience for everyone. Consequently, Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem, which had so many people that they couldn’t find a room at any inns and resorted to using a feeding trough for a crib (Luke 2:4-7).

Let’s pause there because that sometimes gets glossed over. Have you ever been inconvenienced by the government and/or crowds? Have you ever been inconvenienced while trying to do God’s will?

Imagine Joseph and Mary’s feelings at this point because after all, they were mere human beings. They probably felt confused and dismayed. Have you ever felt confused and dismayed by your circumstances?

But at the same time, a multitude of angels sent by God were announcing Jesus’ birth to shepherds, who quickly went to Bethlehem and shared this experience (Luke 2:8-19). Joseph and Mary must have felt greatly comforted and reassured by this news.

1 Corinthians 14:33 says, “God is not a God of confusion, but of peace.” When you’re doing the will of God, you can trust Him in spite of your feelings and circumstances and have underlying peace as a result.

Christmas Blues

But wait, there’s more. 🙂

As we continue in the second chapter of Luke, verses 22-39 describe the presentation in the Temple. Again, we read how Joseph and Mary didn’t have a flawless experience. Their offering of birds indicates their financial means at the time because they couldn’t afford a lamb (Leviticus 12:8). I would’ve assumed the Son of God would’ve had great wealth from day one—with something like a $16.3 million solid gold bassinet. But as mentioned, He slept in a feeding trough in a barn.

And although they received inspiring prophecies of redemption from Simeon and Anna, Simeon told Mary, “Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also” (Luke 2:35). Let’s pause again because that’s so easy to pass over especially since that line is actually in parenthesis in the Scriptures. What an unsettling statement from Simeon! But it shows that ups and downs have been present during Christmastime ever since the very first Christmas.

I encourage you to read carefully through the first two chapters of the Gospel of Matthew with the same scrutiny as we did with the Gospel of Luke. Then you’ll find more details of the good, the bad, and the ugly, including a king, who wants to “seek the young Child to destroy Him” (Matthew 2:13)!

You might also be interested in reading the following blogs:
–“The Ultimate Guide for Beating the Holiday Blues
–“4 Simple Tips for Managing Holiday Stress
–“Giving Thanks in Hard Times
–“Why Selfless Esteem Is Better Than Self-Esteem
–“Mending a Broken Heart: 8 Methods to Ease Your Pain
–“Coping with the Death of a Loved One
–“Four Crucial Sources of Comfort During the Grieving Process.

In conclusion, a Christmas with mixed emotions and circumstances is totally normal. Thus, the true meaning of Christmas is that God loves us so much that He sent Jesus to an imperfect world to save us (John 3:11-21). May you receive His love and have a merry (albeit imperfect) Christmas. 💝

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version®. Copyright © 1984 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

This post was originally posted on 12/24/22 and has been updated.

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  1. TC

    This one will bring comfort to many people, Gina. Very thoughtful of you to remember those whom have lost loved ones and I believe it will also be comforting to those grieving family relationships that they have never had during the holidays. Many blessings to you and your family.

    1. Gina Leggio

      Thanks for pointing out that some people are grieving the loss of a dream of family relationships they’ve never had. I hope you have a happy new year.

  2. Michael

    Very timely and helpful…again! I’m very sad this Christmas, having lost someone I love dearly since last Christmas. But Christmas is the gift from God that makes enduring the pain during our short pilgrimage on Earth tolerable. Thank you!

    1. Gina Leggio

      Thanks so much for you comment–Glory to God! I’m so very sorry for your loss. I agree and may God continue to comfort you in knowing that this “short pilgrimage” is indeed super-short compared to infinity in Heaven and that the pain is incomparable to the unimaginable bliss of a Heavenly reunion. My sincere condolences—May He surround you with His love and peace this Christmas.

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