Where Are You Christ(mas)?

Where Are You Christ(mas)? December 17, 2018
Source: pexels.com

I’ve been listening to Christmas songs since the beginning of November.

What can I say? I’m a Christmas-er. It’s in my blood to go all out for holidays, especially ones that have such a world of their own, as Christmas does.

One song, however, has been nicked from my holiday playlist, and breaks my heart every time I hear it now.

Where are you, Christmas?” by Faith Hill has stabbed me between the ribs in the uncanny way it has paralleled the shambles of my faith life.

I hadn’t realized what the lyrics would do to me until I played it in a habitual pattern I have for my Christmas songs, and when I did hear it, I immediately turned it off. Let me quote a few of the lyrics:

Where are you, Christmas?
Why can’t I find you?
Why have you gone away?
Where is the laughter
You used to bring me?
Why can’t I hear music play?
My world is changing
I’m rearranging
Does that mean Christmas changes too?
Where are you, Christmas?
Do you remember
The one you used to know?
I’m not the same one
See what the time’s done
Is that why you have let me go?
Listening to the song again this year, I was suddenly twelve years old again, remembering the foreign and detached feeling I had to the original feelings of Christmas as being something more than the gifts I wanted. I sang this song constantly, both in and out of the holiday season, sorrowful and mournful over a loss of some of my childhood magic, that magic that believed in the supernatural even when logic demanded otherwise. Playing this song internally, letting the words echo through me with new meaning, I realized I wasn’t heartbroken now over the loss of the glitz and glam of the foibles of the Christmas season, but rather over the shaky and unstable reality of my faith.

Losing the innocent view of the holiday season feels much like it does this year living in the Church.

The columns of the once unquestionable tradition, magisterium, brotherhood, featly, and morality that the Catholic Church has boasted the superiority of since its creation have all not only been put into dire question, but have been shown in the darkest levels of hypocrisy and double standards. I have witnessed this not only in the grander scope of the Church at large, fighting each other over doctrine and leaving victims of the worst kind of evil to nurse their own wounds, but also in my personal purview. I was forced to leave my home parish this year after a blog post I wrote set a group of women in my parish leadership to viscerally attack me online–going so far as to accuse me of not knowing Christ because I questioned a deacon’s homily, along with much worse things.

“Where are you, Christmas?” sets in a darker tone just what happens in the awareness that comes with change, growth, and knowledge in any part of your life, but especially in aspects of your life with as much authority as faith.

There is a strangeness with change, adjustment, and purification. Knowing the other, outside of yourself, must lead to a season of mystery, fear, and hesitation.

There will be times that the rituals, routines, and amenities no longer dazzle or set at ease as they used to. This is a startling thing, but it is a good thing. It means you can further explore why you have set your roots there, beyond having been born in it–beyond the ritual you were comfortable in and now must question because the aesthetics changed.

It also means you can find new beauty, truer beauty, that will settle deep in the foundation of your soul as something that no one can touch, even when the strangeness comes upon you again.





Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/art-ball-blur-bright-298823/

About Jennifer Riley
Jennifer Riley's an emotional writer, engulfing people in her tidal wave of life experiences and interpretations. She’s a bad Catholic, a good sinner, and a pernicious writer who tries to find who she is to herself and to God through her words. You can read more about the author here.
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  • kcwookie

    I read your article.

    “Not that I condone fascism, or any -ism for that matter. -Ism’s in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon, “I don’t believe in Beatles, I just believe in me.” Good point there. After all, he was the walrus. I could be the walrus. I’d still have to bum rides off people.”

    ― Ferris bueller

  • madalyn baumstark

    Where are you….was achingly true for me! Into my eighth decade of celebrations, I still morn that very special, deep, uniqueness of Christmas day. I don’t know when it left, but every year there is a hole in my heart. Memories of mid-night mass, family, sitting in the glow of the tree reminiscing about the day with my mother as the wonder came to its inevitable end. Try as I may, I cannot hear the bell clearly.

    Spiritually, I am in a much more mature place with the Incarnation and consider myself a post denominational Christian. I look forward to recapturing that magic in every moment, or lack of moments!– when my existence continues beyond this veil and we have forever Christmas.

  • gimpi1

    I can relate to this, too. While I’m not a believer, Christmas has always been an important holiday for my family. However, this year my mother-in-law, who is 98 and increasingly frail, had to go into an assisted living facility. She’s frankly too fragile to even come home for a visit, over the last year she’s become unable to walk or even stand up without support, she’s incontinent and her memory and reasoning are starting to fail. We couldn’t have the usual family events with her, and no one really wanted to have them without her. We visit her every few days, we had a small celebration at the facility, but everyone felt the lack…

    The lack of, well, celebrating each other and the season really has me down. It’s hard to sort out… I feel great compassion for all she’s losing, but I still get so frustrated with all the demands on my husband and myself. Her needs have taken over much of our lives. And, while we worry about the cost and get exhausted by the effort, we both know it only ends when it, well, ends.

    It all sort came to a head as we tried to figure out how to have a holiday celebration that included her, and finally figured out we couldn’t.

    Well, thanks for letting me vent a bit. It helps to just put things down sometimes.

  • Jennifer A. Nolan

    That it does. Good luck with everything, gimpi1!