What’s So Merry About Christmas?

What’s so merry about Christmas? It’s the third week of Advent, which is about joy. I know for many it’s difficult to feel the “joy” of the season. For several years I dreaded this supposed cheerful time. I stopped putting up a tree and other previously beloved decorations. I just wanted to skip Christmas, hide in a hole, and make the Christmas music stop (especially before Thanksgiving)! If I’m honest, I hated Christmas music. The sounds reminded me of days gone by when family was near and life was simpler. But life changes. People pass away, move away, and turn away.

Somehow, though, I had a breakthrough a few years ago. One of my favorite stores from up north, The Christmas Tree Shops, opened a pop-up holiday store in my town in Florida. If it hadn’t been this particular store, I likely would have stayed clear of it, knowing it would be Christmas overload with the music to match. I would have known it would bring on those sad feelings again. Seriously, feelings that made me want to run out of every store at Christmastime (and I have on many occasions).

However, I returned to this temporary holiday store several times over the course of the shopping season to pick up various items. The first couple of times were difficult as I withstood the Christmas music and fought the usual onslaught of depression. But one day when I stopped in to quickly purchase something, a particular Christmas song played: “Where are You Christmas?” I had never really paid much attention to the words until then. (And it seemed like they turned up the volume just for me!)

Before long, tears were dripping from my eyes. My quick visit turned into hiding in an aisle toward the back so no one would see my tears as I listened to words I could have written.

I don’t understand why, but something shifted that day, in that temporary holiday store, listening to a sad, secular Christmas song. God used those spot-on words to remind me that though life changes and rearranges, it doesn’t mean Christmas changes. God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He is “Everlasting Father” (Isaiah 9:6), who will never leave us (John 14:18). So Christmas isn’t about who is or isn’t present with us. It’s about Who is. It’s about Immanuel—God with us. That should bring us “comfort and joy!”

Christmas may not be complete joy and merriment. Life is messy, which can make Christmas messy too (in more ways than one). But when I avoided my sadness and shut it out, I also shut out the joy. However, when I allowed myself to feel the sadness, the joy came with it. It is possible to experience both. That’s what His joy and presence are all about.

Nothing has changed about the fact that everything changes. Joy will never come from circumstances, people, or things because they are temporary and imperfect; but He is eternal and unchanging.

The unique Christmas Tree Shops (which were normally not just Christmas items) have all closed now, after 53 years in business, mostly in the northeast. Life changes and rearranges. But I feel like that temporary little holiday store came to town just for me. I likely would not have gone into an all-Christmas store if it wasn’t one I was familiar with and loved. I’m so glad I did. The icicles of Christmas sadness melted away that day.

Yes, Christmas Tree Shops have all gone away, but my Christmas joy has come back.

 

And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8 NKJV

“I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18 NKJV

“…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:20 NKJV

 

Copyright laws prevent me from writing the words, but here are the lyrics to “Where Are You Christmas?“, and you can listen here.

 

My podcast cohost and I have been going through the four weeks of advent. Here are the links for our sessions so far:

Advent Pt3 – Joy

Advent Pt2 – Peace

Advent Pt1 – Hope

Tune in next week to hear the last part of this series on Advent – Love.

(These are the Facebook live links on Vero’s Voice Magazine’s Facebook page. You can also click the Podcast button above, or find us on Spotify, Apple, or wherever your favorite place is to listen to podcasts; just search for Seeds of Hope with Del and Penny. And don’t forget to like and subscribe!)

 

Thank you for your faithfulness and support during 2023. May God bless your 2024 with abundant blessings!

Joy,

Penny

 

I am so excited about this children’s book! It’s finally available for pre-order and I would love to get it in as many children’s hands and hearts as possible. It teaches kids a morning prayer, “Now I wake me up from sleep…,” to show them how they can pray in the morning and any time of day. You can pre-order The Wake-up Prayer here.

I’d love to have you on my launch team to help share about the book! Just comment below or hit the contact button above to let me know you’d like to help out.

 

 

Would you consider, Pursuing Prayer – Being Effective in a Busy World, for a gift, or for your new year group or personal Bible study? You may check it out here.

 

 

 

 

 

Next up — Pursuing Prayer for America will be here in early 2024. Be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss when this important book releases.

8 Comments

  1. Kathy Morey on December 14, 2023 at 3:59 pm

    Christmas is very hard for me. I always seem to put on a happy face for my family ….. but it just is not there any more and hasn’t been for a long time. To be honest I can’t even put a finger on why it is like that for me. Even as a child I never had joy or happiness. This year is even harder on me having to put my beloved 90 year old dementia father in a memory care center. I am glad he is safe but sad his memory has dwindled to remembering the way back and not the present! With all that sad I wish you and yours the happiest of Christmas’ ! Love you 💕



  2. Debbie Hannus on December 14, 2023 at 4:03 pm

    Well, I miss YOU and the Christmas Tree Shops up here in New England! Happy to read that your Christmas joy is back – you share joy with so many. Enjoy your family and sending hugs to you this season and all year! Love ya, Deb



  3. Penny Cooke on December 14, 2023 at 5:01 pm

    If our focus is not on Christ and His presence and love, we will be lost. Praying your joy comes from that–each day, not just at Christmas.
    Love you too, Kathy. xo



  4. Penny Cooke on December 14, 2023 at 5:03 pm

    I sure miss you too, Debbie! Hugs back to you. Let me know if you’re in my neck of the woods (or should I say, beach 😉
    Love ya too!



  5. Ava Pennington on December 14, 2023 at 5:09 pm

    You could have been reading my mind as you wrote this!



  6. Jeanne Roberson on December 16, 2023 at 12:19 am

    I love that you point out how we can feel sad and still feel joy. How good our God is! I remember the year the Christmas tree shop came to town. Being from New England, I know the store well. It was always a fun place to shop. Thank you for sharing this story.

    Hugs in the Spirit of Christmas
    Jeanne



  7. Penny Cooke on December 18, 2023 at 4:54 am

    Hugs and prayers…



  8. Penny Cooke on December 18, 2023 at 4:56 am

    Yes, totally possible to be joy in the midst of pain. Yes, how good our God is to do that for us!
    Hugs back to you…



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