That’s the word that comes to mind as I contemplate the coming of Christmas. Bittersweet – like certain kinds of chocolate that are both a bit bitter but also deliciously sweet at the same time. Webster’s defines bittersweet as anything “producing or expressing a mixture of pain and pleasure.”
I think that captures this season for some of us.
I love the sweet parts of Christmas – the house alight with candles and holly, that special gift you find for that special person, small children scampering around with wonder in their eyes, the dog festooned with a bright red bow. And of course, family gathered over all the traditional recipes: turkey, chestnut stuffing, sweet potato casserole with so much brown sugar it tastes like dessert! For years, Christmas was sweet at our house as long as we provided video games for our son, and something in the three P groups (pink, plastic or princess) for our girls. It was sweet even when the dog got into the chocolate from the children’s stockings and was ill under our dining room table, during the Christmas meal. Even then. Savor the sweetness.
But I know that this season has some bitter moments for those of you who have had a difficult year.
The Christmas spirit can be hard to come by. For some, this season is full of heartbreak, illness and loss. To you, I want to say don’t force the holiday merriment. Be gentle with yourselves. Jesus loves you so much, and this season was never about anything, but a long-awaited child born in a stable under the light of a star. And that child is the Emmanuel – God with us – even in the darkest and most bitter seasons.
So, hold onto the Emmanuel and forget everything else.
Say thank you for the sweet times and settle into Jesus’ (anything but bittersweet) love in the hard times. My prayer is that, for a few moments at least, what is pure and light and filled with the goodness of our Lord will outshine any darkness.
With all Christmas Blessings,