Christmas Negativity or Nativity?

Is it just me, or is it not quite as “Christmassy” as it typically is, this time of year?

I mean — it just feels like, the lights aren’t as twinkly, the Christmas music — if it’s even playing — seems a little flat, the ice skating rinks in New York City are empty — as are the stores (and restaurants), and it’s as though we’re all collectively holding our breath to see if — like Thanksgiving — Christmas is even going to “happen” this year.

And, to be honest, I’ve really let the “up-in-the-air-ness” of it all get to me. Here it is, it’s December 10 and I have purchased exactly two Christmas presents. And, the window of “delivery eligibility” for online orders is rapidly diminishing, so unless I want to risk it all to physically go into a store for a stinkin stocking stuffer, then I better get my act together, or else get on board with the idea of giving out homemade back rub coupons this year.

I don’t think I’m alone in this, though. COVID has really given this holiday season the “1-2-punch.” And we’re all just hanging on by a thread…much like the virtual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

I mean — I saw at Hudson Yards they were offering a “virtual visit with Santa.” Now, if that’s not just the saddest thing I’ve ever seen, I don’t know what is.

And I’ve really been trying to get in the spirit. If you follow me on Instagram, (which I would really appreciate if you did, I’m @beauty.beyond.bones)…I’ve been trying to post a bunch of Christmassy stories, complete with folksy/indie Christmas music and a romantic filter that would make even Nicholas Sparks proud. So, I’m trying. It even flurried yesterday…and even though it hit when I was out on my run (in shorts), I tried to welcome it with the joyful wonder of that “first snow,” despite the near hypothermia that occurred as a result.

So, suffice it to say, despite my best efforts, my recent outlook has been a wee bit Grinchy.

But this morning, as I was looking out the window at the blustery 31 degree morning, I had a bit of a Christmas epiphany, you could say.

I started thinking about the manger. I remembered how Mary and Joseph kept being turned away from inn after inn, and as a last resort, they made due with a stable, literally surrounded by farm animals: cattle, ox, sheep, donkeys.

Image: S. Dewey

Sounds kinda like a 2020 experience, am I right?

But that very first Christmas, all they had were each other, and the Christ child.

And that’s when it hit me.

That is our exact situation, right here in 2020, too.

This Christmas, we are being brought back to the manger. Not just in our mind, or on the creche on the mantle. No, we’re actually physically being brought back to that quiet, solemn night, alone with just family and Christ.

This year, all the materialistic, clamoring noise that usually surrounds Christmas has been stripped away. Those distractions that compete for our attention, and divert our focus away from the true miracle of Christmas have all but dissolved, leaving us with no excuse, but to pull up a bail of hay and park ourselves next to Baby Jesus in the manger.

I was reminded, this morning, that instead of feeling melancholy or wistful for the normal “holiday rush,” with the Christmas parties, and battling for parking spots at the mall, cookie baking, and going one million miles per second, it seems, I should cherish the fact that this Christmas, I can really return to the Why.

Return to the “Reason for the Season” — which, believe me, I cringed just as hard typing that, as you did reading it.

But it’s true. It’s an eye-roll-inducing cliche for a reason: it’s true.

Christmas isn’t about the decorations. It isn’t about having 100 gifts under the tree, with the perfect gift wrap, and the Christmas cards with the color-coordinated matching family outfits, or the kids’ school chorus concerts…those are all nice and beautiful traditions. But when it comes right down to it, it’s about Jesus, coming to earth as a child, in the most humble of circumstances, all because He loves you and me enough to be born to die.

And what a truly unique and glorious opportunity we’ve been given — in the pandemic holiday season of 2020 — that we can spend this Christmas differently than we ever have – and probably ever will – ever again: in our own little families, with Jesus.

We’ll have to have virtual church, and therefore, have to purposefully and intentionally make time for Jesus, and invite Him into our homes, and we’ll spend Christmas in an intimate, incredibly special – and hopefully meaningful – time.

I honestly, think it’s really beautiful.

That first Christmas, all there was was Jesus, and the love between a very small, and very holy family.

This Christmas, the old is new again. And here we are today, in that same, manger-shaped boat.

May we all embrace our seemingly desolate present, as the opportunity for our own living nativity, as we navigate these uncertain next couple of weeks, before we welcome Baby Jesus at Christmas, with just our own little family, too.

“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5


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136 responses to “Christmas Negativity or Nativity?”

  1. Here in South Dakota people appear to be pushing back against Covid gloom with all out Christmas-ing. Tree farms ended their seasons early after so many drove out to cut fresh trees. We just decorated and ate having a hopeful Advent. May you find a highway in the desert!

    • Oh really?! That’s so encouraging to hear!! Thanks so much for sharing that. That gives me so much hope! I hope you have a wonderful Advent too! Hugs and love xox

    • Oh that is such a wonderful thing to do!! Thanks for sharing that! K hope you have a wonderful Advent season! Hugs and love xox

    • Thank you so much!! I’m so glad it resonated with you! And gosh thanks for passing it along! Hugs and love xox

  2. I’ve had Christmassy years some not so much. I must wonder if COVID will do some good for us and how we see Christmas. We all feel this conditioned response after so many childhood years filled with anticipation and the “magic” provided by our parents. We find it ever harder to find that childhood feeling as adults, because we see past the earthly curtain. The reality looms large even as we shut our eyes, hoping to recapture childhood feelings.

    Perhaps we do our children a disservice by promoting the “wonder of it all,” because the “all” is seldom about Jesus. Maybe, if we can lay one compliment at COVID’s feet, it’s that it has let the air out of the earthly holiday, leaving us nothing but Jesus and the reality of why He came.

    As always, Caralyn, thank you for sparking new thoughts for me!

    • Hi Jeff! not quite sure how I missed this comment!?! i think you touch on a great point – sometimes we have to experience a “lack” in order to truly appreciate something that we’ve previously taken for granted. so true. “all” is typically not inclusive of the TRUE miracle of Christmas. So true. i love those thoughts, Jeff! thank you for sharing! Have a safe trip! hugs to you and your girls xo

  3. I felt like that last Christmas! I was even extremely pregnant and delivered 4 days after Christmas. But the intentional scale-down we did last year really prepared us for this year. And it’s been so much easier to keep Christ central without all the pomp and circumstance and capitalism. Just Jesus. Just our immediate family. And gratitude breathing joy into us. And peace.

    • oh my gosh what a Christmas to remember!!! i agree – a Christ and family focused Christmas is so refreshing!! loving the gratitude! thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  4. Hi, thanks for sharing. I have found the hard way 2 years ago about the emptiness at Christmas if all I wanted was the good feelings. The joy and happiness that I am told I am supposed to feel never came. This year, I am much more jaded in some ways. However, I remind myself that there is more to Christmas than some nativity set and food. I was reminded that the point of the Advent is the Cross that follows. 🙂

    • thank you so much for sharing that – you’re right – there is SO much more to Christmas! thank you for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  5. Yep, year 2020 was the pits and for some years now we haven’t understood Who the reason for the season is. Most people think its Santa! Wrong! But this year has been specially favored for negativity and maybe its time to equally put reason into the season and into 2021.

    • You’re right about that Ian! Not Santa but Jesus! Thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

    • Well, our house is collecting orphans. We have a lot around us. We could start a trend. Maybe form your own collection of alone people. And God is always with you too! 😄

      • Well, several people at my church do not have family or anyone around to spend Christmas with, so we adopted them as family and asked them to spend it with us. We also have all our family elsewhere and travel is such a process. Good to take the initiative and ask. I bet a lot of people are in the same boat.♥

      • The mayor cannot go against the constitution, which gives us all a right to assemble. It is beyond the scope of his power. A small group will never be targeted by police. We have freedom in America. ❤

      • In theory, yes, but that’s not how they see things here… it’s been talked about fining people for violating the stay at home orders, but I don’t think they are yet. I don’t know if I really want to travel, though, honestly… I wouldn’t want to put my 71-year-old parents or 100-year-old grandma in danger if I’m sick and don’t realize it, and it would probably be just us this year, plus maybe my mom’s sister who is retired and staying with Grandma this month. I just haven’t felt much like celebrating this year :\

      • I can understand that. It is easier here because I live in Florida. We are having a small party in our house. It can be small, intimate and mean more. Lots of board games. Good movies, that sort of thing. God bless your efforts. God helps.❤

      • Exactly… Florida has taken the opposite approach in terms of more vs. fewer restrictions, and we’re doing a lot worse right now. Just goes to show that total lockdowns don’t work. The problem is that people here love to make rules and then make exceptions for themselves…

      • Yes, must be very frustrating. As a doctor, it has been a source of frustration to us that masks were even encouraged, not alone isolation. That never works. Best to protect vulnerable and just live life. Death rates are lower than the much more common flu. It feels like we are pawns in some elaborate game we are paying for. God will judge them. We have power too, though. We can pray and also can choose how we look at it and what we focus on. We can still count our blessings. We can make the most of it. We can move away to a non lock down state where freedom still is reapected. We can choose to be joyful. We can speak truth. ❤

      • That’s exactly it. We are pawns in a game… the people who want to make everyone dependent on the government are shutting down small businesses so they can push for the government to pay people not to work and pay for it by taxing the rich. I’ve been thinking a lot (again) about moving, but it would be a huge pay cut for me at this point. And a while ago (spring 2019, before COVID), I was doing a lot of praying about it, and the verse in Matthew 9 where Jesus had compassion on the people because they were like sheep without a shepherd kept coming up… God put me in this hostile environment and got me involved with the new church plant I’ve been part of for a reason. But am I really being effective when I’m angry and depressed all the time? :\

      • Greg, I just prayed for God to n give you clarity and wisdom right now and also joy and peace. Perhaps you are to leave, perhaps you are to gather up strength and be a light. God knows but I do know that prayer and faith are the start of your answer. And I would go from there, seeking truth from God and wisdom and clarity. God knows way better than we do what is best for us all. Keep the faith, brother in Christ!❤

    • Thanks so much Greg, you’re right. It really is. Oh gosh I’m sorry to hear that! I hope you can use that time of quiet to really connect with the Lord! Hugs and love xox

      • I just talked to Mom and she said that she and Dad would be willing to make a long day trip up here, even though we aren’t supposed to travel. I’m so overwhelmed and grumpy that I haven’t thought that far ahead, though… I don’t know if I feel like being around people this year. But connecting with the Lord would be a great thing to do that I haven’t done enough of lately…

      • oh wow that’s a great compromise. i definitely understand where you’re coming from. i always find that my family can always brighten my spirits! Hugs and love xox

  6. Yes!!!! Return to the simplicity of the birth of our Savior. In that way, this may be the best Christmas in a very long time. Praise God!!! Love you, you beautiful friend you!!! Hugs!! XO😄❤

    • Amen to that, Tonya! I think you’re right. This year we’re going to have to not only be creative but intentional about creating a worship church experience in our homes. I’m actually kind of excited about that aspect! Thanks so much for stopping by, my beautiful friend! Love you and hope you’re having a wonderful advent season! Hugs and love xox

    • Thank you so much!! Oh I’m so glad you agree. We’ll be able to focus on God!! Hugs and love xox

  7. There are other times – often the most unexpected, unlikely times – when strong as life itself comes the sense that there is a holiness deeper than shabbiness and horror and at the very heart of darkness a light unutterable. God is LOVE!

    • You’re so right about that – God is LOVE and I think we’ll be able to really focus on that this year. That’s a beautiful thing! Hugs and love xox

    • Thank you so much! Oh my gosh I would be absolutely honored!! Yes! We’ve been given an incredibly opportunity to finally let Christmas be centered around Christ! Hugs and love xox

  8. The covid is real,donald Trump being wreckless and the virus is alive and well,this year and time feels off,hard to get in the mood with people losing their lives and so many cases,being a human being is the true gift and understanding of the situation at hand

  9. Nothing can separate us from the love of God,not even covid-19,so I thank God that Christmas is here and we will celebrate.Thank you so much for encouraging words.

    • You’re absolutely right Stella! NOTHING can separate us from His love and mercy and grace. So glad to hear it. Thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  10. Christmas, must be in our hearts, and nothing can take that away from us. It may feel like Noah and his family did at times, but God used them mightily, to help perform a rescue for all of humanity, through Jesus. May we, Carolyn (spelling ?), keep up the good fight!

    • Oh I love that!!Christmas is in the heart! Yes it is!! Thank you so much for sharing that. And amen – Jesus is the rescuer!! Hugs and love xox – Caralyn

  11. Amen! P.S. There are three 1/2 hour shows about the manger and true meaning of Christmas…The Little Drummer Boy, Charlie Brown Christmas and Nestor the Long Earred Donkey. Love these!

    • Oh really!! That’s awesome! I will have to check those shows out!! Like little gumdrops! Haha thanks for stopping by, Marla! Hugs and love xox

  12. God has removed all the material distractions that usually take our eyes off the most important aspect of Christmas. Those of us who belong to Him should be thankful we’re being reminded that when all else is telling us to be frightened our Lord and Savior’s lowly birth gives us reassurance that we have a hope that transcends this fallen, sinful world.

    • You’re absolutely right, Rollie! All the material distractions have been stripped away! Amen – gotta cling to His hope! So glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

  13. I see your receptivity to Christian beauty (though I wonder wherefrom you got it). And for me to have lost this intellectually has thrown me into absurdity. I try to navigate absurd waters now.

    But I see intimacy in the art of Christ’s manger. And like you say, we collectively feel reduced this year that all we have left is want of intimacy. But even in our abundance of materials and rich country we are not augmented but still reduced to bare subsistence like that image of infant Jesus and manger. This year we might see our lowliness and vulnerability.

    This I suppose is why Christmas is commemorated: to promise us intimacy exists/ has entered this world; and we participate in it. Maybe in my own bare subsistence, despite my intellect, I can accept this beautiful message of intimacy. Certainly I do want it.

    • Thanks Jerrod. Yes! Christ coming to earth was such an intimate demonstration of His love for us. It is amazing, truly. So glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

  14. Caralyn, thank you for these truths, although hard to write. So much this year has pointed to the most important things remaining. Why not Christmas as well. Maybe God is whispering something important.

    • Thank you friend! You’re right – I think God is absolutely whispering something vitally important to literally bring the entire world to a screeching halt. Hugs and love xox

  15. I wish I could add a photo to this comment box. We buy Christmas ornaments every year for significant things that happen throughout the year. After some 31 years, from “Our First Christmas” to February 2020 when we visited friends in Denver just as the covid virus began to shut down airports, our tree is pretty full with just “annuals.” This year we have a couple of others, but my favorite is the 2020 Covid Ornament from Maxora. Our names and a loving heart are on the toilet paper :-).
    “The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” — Burton Hills

    • Thank you so much!! I’m so glad it resonated with you. I’m glad that Christmas is going to happen as usual this year! That is absolutely wonderful to hear! Hugs and love xox

  16. This is a lovely touching post. I’m not into Christmas but adore the time with my family. I give thanks to God and feel blessed that each year we are able to come together.
    Sending love to you and your family

    • Aw thank you so much!! I’m so glad it hit home with you! Yes – time with family is such a gift, especially during this time of year!!! Thanks!! Same to you!! Lots of love! Xox

  17. Fortunately I have my family here with me.. So nothing will stop us from having a Good Christmas. Also fortunately, over here in Dubai, a Muslim country, Christmas is not cancelled. There are a number of Christmas concerts, pantomimes, etc. Christmas songs are playing, etc and people are gearing up for normal Christmas.
    Kind of sad really when you think that in a majority Christian country like the US, Politicians are willing to cancel Christmas for everyone but themselves.

    I think that the best thing right now is to stop looking at ourselves and try to make Christmas good for those around us.

    If you want something to get you into the spirit, I invite you to watch this movie..

    Why this movie? Because it has the best message of all. Instead of filling our thoughts and minds with words and deeds of selfish politicians and hate, we remind ourselves that…

    • Oh that’s so great to hear! I’m glad you’ll be able to be with loved ones! And wow that’s so encouraging that things are going as usual! You’re right – giving to others. Thanks for passing that film along! I look forward to reading it! Hugs and love xox

  18. What a beautiful perspective to have! This is the same truth I have been teaching the youth at my local church… beautiful message friend 🙏🏼💙 May God continue to bless you and keep you!

    • Hi Nicholas, oh thank you so much! oh i lov that – gotta spread the joy and the hope! Hugs and love xox

  19. You did nail it. I’m coming up with an article called The Year of Wrong for my political blog. I came to the same conclusion. We’re kind of like George Bailey, getting to see what Christmas would be like without all of the the commercialism. I haven’t watched The Nativity Story yet this year, but I will be soon!

  20. Maybe this Christmas we might get a better idea of what the first Christmas was really like. No bright lights (of course there was the star), no presents under a tree, no tables loaded with food. Just a dark possibly cold stable with a young couple unsure of what the future held.

    • thank you so much Penny! I pray that too! a family Christmas with Jesus — that’s how it always should be, in my opinion!! so glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

  21. Normally, I find Christmas a frustrating experience. It isn’t what I want and I feel out of sorts with the whole thing without really understanding why. But the “reason for the season” is true and I’m not hating the slight push back against massive overconsumption and greed.

    • Hi Em! thank you so much for sharing that – you’re right – there’s so much commercialism that has caused the focus to shift from what CHristmas is all about. Amen. Hugs and love xox

  22. May we all embrace our seemingly desolate present, as the opportunity for our own living nativity, as we navigate these uncertain next couple of weeks, before we welcome Baby Jesus at Christmas, with just our own little family, too.

    This is a most beautiful expression of love and grace.
    I remember being appalled that anyone would refuse the little family about to give birth. And yet we all refuse that baby at some point in our lives. In some way in our lives, in some action or lack of action in our lives, we refuse. When the king realizes the Magi weren’t coming back he refused to accept this infant king and his next actions of refusal were and remain horrific.
    To express love and grace, and offer what we have to God, to Jesus, to listen to the Holy Spirit is an act of accepting that little Babe. It is an action worthy of taking in each moment. Miss Caralyn thank you for accepting God’s love so that you are here now writing this words, doing the work of an evangelist, pointing the way.
    Merry Christmas,

    • Hi Teri! Thank you so much for this beautiful response! And so powerful – you’re so right, we have to choose to accept the little Babe every day in our actions, thoughts, words, spiritual life. It is an active decision! thank you for such kind words! have a beautiful CHristmas season! Hugs and love xox

  23. I agree with you things seem very slow and not as joyful as it was in the past. My grandpa and I put the lights up on the roof. A friend of ours came by and helped us decorate the tree and the front room.

  24. I can’t remember when last we had Christmas – 2006 is the last one I can remember. As unsupported Christian missionaries, finding food and the day’s rent really is the priority and nobody would even show a bit of humanity. It is easier to be discarded by the Body of Christ than being part of it. And yet another Christmas is waiting in the wings. We are alone at home while all around packed their campers and went to the beach. My own disability doesn’t make it easier as our twon is steep and it is a two mile return walk, stressing my degenerating heart to the limit in the hot African sun. So, if anyone can figure out how to have Christmas on a $120 state disability grant…………..

    • Gosh, my heart breaks reading this. I’m sending you so much love this Christmas. You are loved. You are seen. You matter. Hugs and love xox

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