Blue Christmas

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” -Matthew 11:28

Seven or eight Decembers ago, an Elvis Presley impersonator was performing at a nursing home. He crooned his way through “Burning Love,” “Hound Dog,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” “All Shook Up,” and “Jailhouse Rock.” As he started to take requests for the next song, one of the residents asked for “Blue Christmas.”

The mood changed as he began to sing. One by one, those residents became thoughtful and quiet. By the looks on their faces, they were thinking of missing loved ones as “Elvis” crooned:

I’ll have a blue Christmas without you

I’ll be so blue just thinking about you

Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree

Won’t be the same dear, if you’re not here with me

Christmas is a hard time of year when life is hard. Many carols declare “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” or implore us to “have a holly, jolly Christmas.” But when we’re missing someone, or when we’re worried about a scary diagnosis, or when our heating bill is double our budget, or when we’re out of a job, or when we can’t travel to be with loved ones, or when the cold and dreary weather takes its toll on our moods, well, we’re not usually jolly. We’re blue.

If that’s you this year, you are not alone. “Blue Christmas” wouldn’t be such a popular song if it didn’t feel so true to so many people. Many people are sad for many different reasons. Even more people have mixed feelings, somewhere between glad and glum, as the good and bad of the season make their presence known.

I’ve even heard people say something is wrong with them if they feel sad at Christmas. Not true! You are allowed to be sad. You’re allowed to have a blue Christmas. You’re allowed to feel frazzled and overwhelmed. You don’t have to have it all together to have Christmas.

As an adult, Jesus would tell the people: come, all you weary ones, with heavy burdens, and I’ll give you rest. Notice that he did not say: come, everybody who’s got it all figured out, living your best life, impressing everyone around you, and you can take a break from your Pinterest-worthy, no-filter glory.

Are you weary this Christmas? Weary from grief or worry or fear or just plain keeping track of everything in your life this month? Then go to Jesus. He gives rest. Go to the manger. Go, like the shepherds, bringing no gift, only yourself. Rest at the manger with that exhausted mother, anxious father, and newborn king. Breathe in the sweet smell of hay and the sour smell of sheep, and rest.

Come to Jesus, all you who are weary and burdened, and rest.

God, when I am weary, give me rest. When I am blue, let me be with you. When I long for my burdens to be lifted, bring me to the manger of Jesus Christ, where I will find rest for my soul. Amen.

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