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Monday, December 29, 2014
Merry or Mourning? by Donna Mann
I’m writing this blog on Christmas day after listening to
the world leaders offer their seasonal message, finishing with a variety of
familiar terms. Although they spoke about reconciliation, reaching out to one
other and God’s gift of love in Jesus, Pope Francis’ candid statement, “there
are many tears this Christmas” left me thinking.
the adjective, Merry, fit in the
midst of ‘many tears’ ? And how does one show care and consideration of another
when greeting? We might wish or want others to have a Merry Christmas,
but are they in a situation or frame of mind that they or even God can/will
actually achieve it? There have been times in the valleys of my own life that I
wanted to hear a greeting with different words than one that left the
suggestion that I could be or wanted to be merry.
need to say that I love the Advent and Christmas season right up to the 12th
night. Our tree goes up on December 1st and often doesn’t come down until
January end. The lights, festive colours, turkey and pudding, visits, choosing
cards, making handmade gifts all year, preparing the stockings and attending
church are all part of my feeling-at-home in the season.
reflect on a few situations to explore some early feelings of being
uncomfortable with this word merry. Because of parents going south and later
adult children wanting to be at home around their own tree, our family day was
early in December.
The 25th, free of home responsibilities during my
active years of ministry, gave time to visit hospitals, nursing homes and
sometimes prisons where I often saw sadness. More recently Facebook, news feeds
and emails bring the world to the kitchen table with people’s tragedies. Sometimes we can set personal sorrow aside and get into, submit and give thanks for everything Christmas represents in our life - and sometimes we can't. And the happy person who calls out Merry Christmas as we walk down the grocery store aisle doesn't have a clue what burdens we might be carrying in our hearts for ourselves or others.
died on December 11th, 1983, making the season difficult. Returning to our home in Alberta and leaving my father, planted another level of grief. Arriving back to my settlement charge, I found great comfort in the ‘Blue Christmas’ or ‘Longest night' services.
at this time of year taught me to be a sensitive and caring minister, to listen
with the third ear (heart), maybe more than seminary managed. I learned not
everybody wants to feel merry, happy and joyful on any given day, nor do they
want others to assume they are.
I have a
few days left until the 12th day, and I hope to balance grief and grace, despair and laughter, beauty, pain and
battle as Sarah Clarkson writes in her recent award winning short story. Perhaps then I will
be able to offer a greeting that meets the need of those who God puts in my
I trust the
Christmas Spirit of Love has, or is about to visit you, in whatever part of the
world you live.