Christmas’ New Normal

christmasBut many of the older priests, Levites, and other leaders who had seen the first Temple
wept aloud when they saw the new Temple’s foundation.
The others, however, were shouting for joy.

Ezra 3:12 NLT

A new normal had arrived—and with it, a state of anxiety.

I’m a nostalgic kind of guy. If I were retired, I would sit around and watch the Hallmark channel’s Christmas movies for six weeks. They’re sappy and have predictable endings. The girl gets the guy, the mystery is solved, the wish granted.

Christmas celebrations in our family were once predictable too. When I and my brothers were small, we gathered at our grandparents’ houses for a meal and the opening of presents. When all of us had grown up, married, and had children of our own—and the grandparents had gone to glory, we gathered at our parents’ house—who were now grandparents. We repeated our life-long pattern by eating a meal and opening presents in a certain way. Sit in a circle, open a present, show everyone what you received, and tell who it was from. It was customary, predictable, comfortable.

Then divorces and remarriages ripped through our family. Not a one of us escaped. With the remarriages came new step members—in-laws, out-laws, and more grandparents. Getting the family together was challenging—almost impossible. Too many homes to schedule visits at.

Our Christmas gatherings are now unpredictable, unsettling, and, for some in the family, non-existent. I feel like the Israelite leaders who returned from Babylonian exile witnessed the new Temple’s foundation and wept because it didn’t compare with the one they had seen before—King Solomon’s temple. They experienced a new normal, just as I am now.

I sometimes react to this new normal with a host of emotions: anger, confusion, sadness, nostalgia. But doing so doesn’t help. It only makes me miserable and taints the holiday season. I’m learning to accept this new normal. Life will never be as it once was. I might as well make the best of it and look for the good in it.

God has brought many new normals in my lifetime. I sometimes treat them in the same way I’m tempted to do with the holiday season, but I’m learning a healthier way. What was once normal won’t return. I’m learning to embrace these new normals with anticipation, excitement, and appreciation. After all, God is in control and knows what He’s doing. I must trust Him.

When God brings new normals into your life, embrace them rather than resist them.

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