The True Color of Christmas

My grandma always, always made pink sugar popcorn at Christmas.

My mom always made it, and now we make it, too.

Pretty much, in order for it to truly be Christmas for me, there must be pink sugar popcorn.

What’s that you say? Pink is not a Christmas color? Pshaw.

Who has the authority to say that Christmas is red and green?

I say it’s pink. And it’s Grandma’s fudge, and her animal cookies.

Every time I make treats at Christmas, I think of my grandma. And I always, always remember a certain story my mom used to tell me.

My grandpa died shortly before Christmas many years ago, before I was born. My mom wished so much that we could have known him, so she told us stories and little tidbits to make him seem more real to us.

And she told us about that first hard Christmas without him, about how Grandma rolled out her Christmas cookie dough while her tears rolled down her cheeks.

To me, that mental picture of Grandma crying while she baked, that sums up Christmas.

Our culture bombards us with the “meaning” of Christmas. Even in spiritual ways, I feel this pressure to feel a certain way, to do certain things and act a certain way, because this will make Christmas come alive. I will apparently feel joyful and peaceful, and there will be wonder and love at Christmas.

Those are very wonderful things, but the truth of it is that Christmas does not make real life disappear. And for a lot of people, Christmas still means there will be pain and suffering, and disappointment and loneliness.

I completely believe that the message of Jesus enables us to rise above all of that.

But I also know what it’s like to feel so beaten down that it’s just plain hard to rise anywhere, and to feel connected with that message. Or even to connect with Jesus.

And there are people who don’t feel joy or peace or wonder or love. Sometimes Jesus feels far away.

But there’s this: Emmanuel means “God with us”. And I believe that He’s with us whether we feel Him there or not. He is there even when we don’t feel connected, and when we don’t “feel” Christmas-y.

He was there in the pain and the sorrow of that sad Christmas for my Grandma as she went through the motions of making things special for everyone else, even when she probably didn’t feel like it.

We’re told that the colors of Christmas are red and green. But I say the color of Christmas can be pink. It’s the memories of my strong, brave Grandma, and it’s real life.

Sometimes we go through the motions today because we have hope that things will be better tomorrow. And sometimes we have to do that even at Christmas.

Ben always says, “It is what it is.” He is always reminding me to accept things the way they are, rather than trying to force emotions, or force things to happen the way I want them to. We take what life hands us, and we do the very best that we can, and then we offer all of that to God.

And then He comes along, and He heals, comforts, forgives, restores, and He is with us.

Peace, love, joy and wonder are definitely possible at Christmas. But crying some tears, and feeling tired under a heavy burden is a reality, too. And that’s okay. Because we’re working on it. We’re learning how to find the peace that passes all understanding. I was working on that in November, I’m working on it in December, and I’ll be working on it in January. Christmas does not always feel miraculous and magical.

It is what it is.

So if this Christmas, you’re not “feeling” the way you’re “supposed” to feel, I want to offer you some encouragement. God is with you, even if you don’t feel Him.

He will give you the strength to keep going, and it’s okay if you haven’t gotten everything figured out by Christmas.

There’s no right or wrong way of doing this, or feeling this, because it is what it is.

Your Christmas might be pink, or purple, or orange. And it will be good, as long as you remember that He is in it.

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