We Need a Little Christmas

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined. -Isaiah 9:2

One of my favorite secular Christmas songs is “We Need A Little Christmas,” originally from the 1966 musical Mame. I prefer the Angela Lansbury recording, but Idina Menzel’s version will do in a pinch. In the musical, the character Mame has lost her fortune and decides that the best way to cope is to throw herself into Christmas, even though it’s weeks too early by any reasonable standard. The song has been popular for half a century since its debut, perhaps in part because we’ve all had the experience of longing for a bit of Christmas joy when life seems joyless. We know what it’s like to need a little Christmas.

The days and nights of December can be truly difficult for so many people. For those impacted by seasonal affective disorder, the long nights and lack of sunlight can lead to depression. For those who are far from home, seeing others go home for the holidays can leave them feeling more alone than ever. For those who have experienced loss, the special days can feel like painful reminders of what and who they’re missing.

And even if there’s no reason you can put your finger on, you might still find yourself having a bit of a blue Christmas. Especially this year, with so many expectations of deferred joy from last Christmas, it may be that you’re feeling a little let down by a holiday season that’s just okay. Or it may be that you’ve once again canceled or modified your plans in response to the local plateau in covid-19 cases, and who wouldn’t feel blue about that? Maybe you’re just frustrated that instead of a winter wonderland, the landscape is brown and bare.

Whatever your reason for needing a little Christmas joy, you are not alone. The holly, jolly Christmas mood doesn’t just arrive with a turn of the calendar or the first snowfall. In the bleak midwinter, in the midst of what’s going on in our real lives, we may find ourselves longing for that Christmas feeling without any idea how to get it. Like the people Isaiah prophesied to, we might be stumbling along in the darkness, longing for light.

But the thing about God’s light? That light shines on the people without their having done anything to make it shine. The light of God shines bright when our world is draped in shadows. If you are in darkest night, be comforted: God’s light still shines on you. The light of Christ is not so easily put out.

This Christmas, look for God’s light where it can always be found: in the child in the manger. In Jesus Christ, the light shines so bright that no darkness can overcome it. It is a light so small it could be contained in an infant, and yet a light so grand it fills all the world.

When you find yourself walking in darkness, look to Jesus, the light of the world. He will bring you light.

Jesus Christ, light of life, shine in my life when deep darkness looms. Turn my eyes to see your light, turning the long night to brightest day. Amen.