Rejoice! The End Is Near.

Love’s narchy

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Christmas Comes But Once Too Often

[I didn't so much stop writing over the holidays as suffer an unexpected attack of shyness. So over the next week or so I plan to post the things I wrote but didn't share.]

This year I’m thinking that celebrating Christmas is and always has been a mistake. I don’t remember thinking this in previous years, and I may change my mind by next, but right now it feels like a time of obligation and not-so-clearly-defined expectations– as though the entire month of December has been sacrificed for the sake of this tacky little celebration of the Incarnation of the Lord’s Anointed.

It doesn’t help that my theology has been in flux of late. I hardly know what I believe anymore. Not the Trinity but still the Christ. Not the command to sacrifice Isaac but still the atonement. Not the efficacy of confessing Jesus' name but still a personal relationship with the name-bearer’s self.

For some of you, what I’m saying will not even make denotational sense. For others, it will not make connotational sense. The rest of you will likely just find it confusing.

Given my own confusion, perhaps it’s not surprising that I’m questioning the celebration of Jesus' birth. I used to be a big fan of the liturgical seasons, and I loved C. S. Lewis' meditation on the repetitiveness of it, but in the past few years the church as an organization has fallen out of favor with me.

What do you mean, that sounds arrogant?

I particularly love Lewis' dance analogy: “As long as you notice, and have to count, the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance.” I have loved the midnight Christmas Eve service at the Episcopal church of my childhood, and even “danced” as an acolyte, and … I guess my desire to expunge this holiday from the calendar is not so much about Christmas services as it is about the usual complaints: busy-ness, consumerism, and holiday-induced neuroses.

Christmas is supposed to be about family and community closeness, and yet there’s something deeply wrong in a society where only one day (two, if you count Thanksgiving) out of every year is set apart for this closeness when every day should … What I’m trying to say is that in a more perfect world we’d have holidays from our intense intimacy with one another.

Bah. I don’t even know what I’m saying.

It was a bad day. I had a bad day, and I don’t even know why. The closest I can come to explaining it, even to myself, is to remember a Christmas Eve seven years ago when my six-month marriage was spiraling out of control–was already crashed and burning even though I hadn’t yet given up hope that maybe we’d manage to pull up before hitting the unforgiving tarmac. Unfortunately, we hadn’t been flying all that high to begin with.


That was a long time ago. Water under the bridge. Sands through the hourglass. Dust in the wind.

Shit through the fan. Christmas is hard. I knew it was hard for some folks long before I temporarily got hitched, and now it’s hard for me. No big revelation, no profound insight, just a little more shit through one more fan.

May yours be merrier.