Christmas is a time for joy. It’s the wonder in a child’s eyes, the family you don’t get to see any other time of year, and the celebration of the best Birthday of all!

But for some, Christmas is anything but joyful. A friend of mine lost his mother this past February, and he’s dreading this first Christmas without her. Add to that the fact that his father is very ill and may not be alive when Christmas does come this year. Christmas just won’t be the same for him.

Another friend of mine was looking forward to spending Christmas with her first grandchild for the first time. Sadly her grandson was stillborn, so instead of joy at baby’s first Christmas there are empty hearts and an empty crib.

There was a time when I would cry every time I heard a certain Christmas song – and it wasn’t tears of joy.

Holidays can make our underlying emotional state much more acute. If we’re struggling with depression it becomes almost unbearable around the holidays. Grief at the loss of a loved one can seem overwhelming. If you are out of a job or out of money, if your marriage is broken, if your family brings more pain than joy, if you’re alone, it’s easy to dread Christmas.

May I remind you of something we often forget: The very first Christmas was one of great pain.

As an OB-Gyn physician I see women going through the pain of delivery. First births are always hard. Even by human standards Mary would have had a very difficult night that first Christmas.

Picture the situation if you can. Having a baby – her first – in a strange place, with none of the comforts of even her small home. No epidural or any way to manage the pain. The emotional heaviness of being a single mom.

Sure, many other women have given birth in traumatic circumstances. But the point is – this was Christmas! Would YOU have volunteered?

So, if you’re finding this Christmas full of more pain than joy, you’re not alone. It’s always been that way.

The good news: the Baby born on that very first Christmas is the One who will one day wipe away all tears from your eyes.

And that’s the best Christmas story of all.

Your turn: Is there part of Christmas that is painful for you? Can that help you in understanding the deeper meaning of Christmas? Leave a comment below. 

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