The Friday after Thanksgiving this year was similar to those in the past – our family dug out the Christmas storage boxes, put up the fresh tree, and turned on the jolly tunes as we decorated. However, something was different this time around. After putting the lights on the tree, I was in charge of plugging the lights in to make sure they worked. I reached for the plug and held it to the outlet. In that moment, I felt two feelings completely wash over me: great joy and deep sadness. I felt great joy as I knew the tree would be lit. It would be magical, and I would feel the excitement of the Christmas season. I felt deep sadness as I knew the Christmas season would eventually come to an end.

As I reflected on this moment later, I allowed myself to be curious about the sadness, curious about what I needed to learn from it. In years past, I don’t recall feeling a sense of sadness until the season was over. I wondered: if I allowed myself to feel sadness as I went through the Christmas season, would it feel so big come January?

My family and I started reading an Advent devotional the Sunday after Thanksgiving. This devotional depicts animals’ journeys throughout the winter season. They store up food, make shelter, and buckle down for the harsh winter. They hope for the promise of spring, the promise of sun, the promise of light to come. Ah, that feeling of sadness rose again. This time, the sadness turned to anguish.

I reflected on the waiting for the birth of Christ. Prior to His birth, the people of God were waiting for 400 years for restoration, for redemption. Not a Word from God. He was silent. The agony they must have felt! They were waiting. In silence. In darkness. 

When God created the world, darkness, meaning chaos, was present: “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Gen. 1:2-3). 

In the birth of Christ, the Fall of man experiences redemption through our Emmanuel: “In him was life, and that life was the light of man. The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not understood it”(John 1:4-5). Sure, there is debate on when exactly Christ was born, but there is something about celebrating His birth in the darkest time of the year. There is darkness. There is silence. We wait for the promise of spring, of sun, of light. 

True to my nature, I may be looking too far into the feeling I felt while plugging in the Christmas lights. And still, I believe God can use anything to teach me if I look for it. I, along with other people of faith, wait for the full redemption of God’s people. I long for Jesus’ return. I long for New Creation. In this Christmas season, I don’t want to plow through and only honor the joy I feel. I want to honor the sadness. I want to allow myself to feel the deep anguish. I want to connect with the people of God who felt a similar feeling in the years before Jesus’ birth. Gosh, what a heaviness! How faithful they were to trust in God. What longing! How the enemy must have thought he had won, that darkness had taken over.  And yet, all Creation confidently and expectantly waited for the promise of Light. 

When the darkness falls each day, I will allow myself to feel the sadness. For when I do, I can fully embrace the Light which is to come. 

— Marissa Pollard, CRA Therapist