Are you experiencing Christmas let down? The hustle and bustle, the joy and anticipation of Christmas have come and gone already. A lot of planning, preparation, shopping, wrapping, cooking, baking, and cleaning went into a few short hours, hours that we thought would be perfect, filled with joy and laughter, and hopefully, for many of us, they were.
But that joy and laughter, even in the happiest of homes, ends too quickly, and we are often left with a touch of Christmas letdown or the Christmas blues. Look around, the beautiful wrappings now fill plastic garbage bags. Dishes from Christmas meals clutter the sink and countertops. Pine needles drop from the branches of a tree sadly dying in the big front window for all the world to see.
And behind closed doors, in warm, cosy homes, where no one can see, many people experience post Christmas let down. Some of that Christmas let down comes from the trappings of materialism we place on Christmas, but some of it may come from a deeper region.
Materialistic Causes of Christmas Let Down
The materialism is easy to detect and understand. We have opened the gifts and have gotten wonderful presents, but we find we haven’t gotten everything we wanted or maybe even everything we needed. Some of us may not have been given any material gifts at all. Even more, we re-learn that material gifts do not fill the small space each of us carries at some point yet none of us can quite explain.
The brightly colored wrapping paper appears glaring now, mocking us as it peaks from the plastic garbage bags waiting to be taken outside. We are left with cleanup and bills we would rather not face and wonder what we bought and how things add up so fast.
We have eaten too much and are paying the price of that gluttony in tighter waistbands and sallow skin as we vow to keep a better diet, a more rigorous workout part of our New Years resolution – something to start next week, but not today.
The material Christmas letdown is easy to understand, but is there a connection greater than what can be purchased in a store?
Deeper Causes of Christmas Let Down
Return again to that first Christmas. In the Gospel of Matthew, we see Joseph being awakened by angels and told to flee the city, to head for Egypt because of Herod’s fear, anger, and jealousy. (Matt 2:13-16 The Flight to Egypt)
Imagine yourself as the young Joseph. He could not have understood God’s plan. He had a young pregnant wife with whom he had had no relations. (Matt 1:25) They had traveled to Bethlehem to be enrolled. His wife had given birth among animals in a stable in a city that was not their home. People had come from great distances at all hours to see this baby.
And now, an angel was telling Joseph to run in the middle of the night because someone – the richest, most powerful man in the region – wanted to murder this tiny precious infant in your care, and, to make matters more pressing, that tiny precious infant was not just any tiny, precious infant; He was the Son of God!
Talk about pressure! Joseph must have thought, “Why me?”
Having a young pregnant wife, with whom he had not had sexual relations, give birth must have caused ridicule by some who knew him. He must have feared for Mary and Jesus’ safety at times during the pregnancy. It could not have been an easy pregnancy for Joseph.
We often think that once our baby is born, we can care for him better. Did Joseph think that? Maybe he was completely comfortable with the plan God had as Jesus’ Father, but I know I am not that good of a person. My faith is not that strong, and I would question even if I didn’t have the courage to speak the words aloud.
It is that lack of faith, that questioning of God’s plan that reaches back beyond even that first Christmas that I believe causes Christmas let down. Some scientists believe we have ancestral memories, common “memories” shared experiences from a common ancestor.
Could it be that Christmas let down comes from those common memories? Our visions of what Christmas should bring? The joy of peace and hope and love that Jesus would eventually bring, but that many, even most people, did not experience that first Christmas?
Could Christmas let down reach back even further in common memory? We all have visions of what life is supposed to be like. We feebly attempt to recreate that perfection on Christmas and fail every time! Could it be that somewhere deep in our souls, we are striving to recreate the beauty and wonder of the Garden of Eden?
If so, is it any wonder that so many find Christmas disappointing?
We cannot recreate perfection, but we can turn away from our feeble attempts and rejoice in our growing humility and understanding for it is precisely because of the knowledge contained beneath that let down that we can rejoice in the hope that comes from Christmas. That common memory that tells us:
A bit of Christmas let down may be a sign that you are missing your Father and the perfect Love and Grace only He can give. Allow yourself to be held close to Him, in His arms, in the warmth of His Light and Love and know that there is hope, not in Christmas as it is here on earth, but in what Jesus offers.