While spending time with the Lord today, I was caught up in a sort of thought-picture. I’ve always loved Christmas with all the unbridled platitudes of a hopeless romantic, an utter idealist. But the reason this season makes me feel so alive and so completely happy with that special deep-down happiness is not due to shear naiveté. That is what I am trying to explain to my child in this little thought-picture and, naturally, I began to wonder what I might say to my little one, as I put him or her down to bed on Christmas Eve night. So, with one final clarification that my wife and I are not pregnant (for any of you who might wonder) here is what I’ve come up with:
A long time ago, before you came, Daddy was very sad. And what you need to understand about this sadness is that there is a special kind of sadness that feels so lonely that you don’t even cry. You just sit there and you stare at the wall. That’s the kind of sadness that Daddy felt. I know it might be strange to talk about such a terrible kind of sadness at Christmas, because Christmas is such a happy time. But Christmas starts with sadness and loneliness and the reason Mommy and Daddy celebrate Christmas is because we celebrate how the sadness turned into happiness.
Can you imagine what it would be like if everyone in the whole world felt like that? A very long time ago that’s what it was like. The only difference was that a very few people who felt a little happy. But they felt happy for things that hadn’t happened yet. When you feel that way, it’s called hope. These people had hope because God whispered in their ears that one day He would come and be with them and they wouldn’t feel that very special sadness anymore. It had been 400 years since they heard the whispers, but they still believed that God keeps His promises. Then one day He came.
He dressed Himself up as a little baby called Jesus and that was the first Christmas. But it was a very lonely first Christmas. Nobody wanted Him or His mommy and daddy, So God decided that He would gather up all the lonely people and send them to Jesus and then they wouldn’t be lonely anymore. He let them stay with the animals in a manger, and He found all the poor shepherds in a field and He sent angels to tell them “Guess what! He’s here! He’s finally here! Christmas is finally here and you don’t have to be sad anymore!” In fact, all His life, people never felt lonely when they were with Jesus because there was so much happiness inside of Him. But one day the devil, the bad guy, tricked some very sad and lonely people into killing Jesus. But God had tricked the devil! Because when Jesus died, all the happiness came out of Him and out into the world for all of us to have. Jesus even came back to life so that we can all be with Him, even today!
And that’s what Daddy had forgotten, a very long time ago. Mommy and Daddy weren’t married back then and Daddy liked Mommy very much, but Daddy was afraid that all of his sadness would hurt Mommy. Kind of like how all of those peoples’ sadness hurt Jesus. But what Daddy found out was that the more your Mommy was friends with Daddy, the more Daddy remembered that Jesus is with him, just like Mommy is with him. That’s why Daddy sometimes cries a little when he looks at you, or mommy. Because when Daddy is with people he loves very much he remembers and he becomes very happy, and just like there is a special kind of sadness that makes you not cry, there is also a special kind of happiness that makes you cry.
And that’s why we celebrate Christmas. We do it to help each other remember that they are not alone because Jesus is here with us. We stay with family who we love very much and we give each other gifts to show our love and our very big happiness.