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The Four Emotions of Christmas

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I love the decorations, the gift-giving, and the yearly family traditions.

When our oldest child was just a couple of years old, we started a tradition of surprising her after she was in bed by bursting into her room, throwing her coat at her, and saying, “It’s time for hot chocolate and Christmas lights!.” We then piled into the van, still in our pajamas, and drove through neighborhoods and various light displays around town.

We still do that tradition. Just last night, we did it again. It’s getting harder to pull off since she is going to bed later than when she was two, but we still managed to surprise her and her brother once again. Fun traditions. Even writing about it now brings a joyful smile to my face.

However, Joy is only one emotion people experience at Christmas. My smile fades a bit when I think of three women in our church who are experiencing Christmas as a widow for the first time. My heart aches for them, and I pray for them constantly.

In his short book, The Four Emotions of Christmas, Bob Lepine said, “Christmas joys are deeper than other joys. So are Christmas sorrows. And Christmas stresses.” Bob is right. Lepine briefly walks through the Disappointment, Sadness, Stress, and Joy many experience at Christmas.

Here are a few other quotes from Lepine’s book:

  • Whatever hopes Mary and Joseph had for their wedding festivities and the start of their lives together as man and wife, the news of Mary’s unexpected pregnancy forced them to have to deal with their disappointments and adjust their expectations. Apparently, disappointment and disillusionment have been part of the Christmas story from the very beginning.

  • The conditions surrounding the birth of Jesus were just the beginning of a stressful season for Mary and Joseph. What they couldn’t know was that before they ever made it back to Nazareth and their extended family, they would have to escape to Egypt with a young child. They would have to live as refugees for a long period while the Jewish King Herod was ordering his soldiers to put to death all of the male babies under two living in or around Bethlehem.

  • Scrooge’s circumstances had not changed while he slept. But his priorities had.

  • Emotions are typically uninvited guests.

  • Something deep inside is hoping and longing for Christmas to fill up what is empty in us.

I encourage you to read this concise book. Or at least allow what I have shared to help you think about the various emotions that people around you are experiencing this Christmas.

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Easy to forget, (especially if you aren't the pastor who likely did the funeral), about those for whom this is the first Christmas without a loved one. Sat down by one of the teachers from our Christian school recently, and remembered her mom had passed this year and asked how she was doing in light of the holidays. It was good to talk with her about it. She didn't need words of wisdom from me, but I'm sure just the fact that someone remembered and asked was a blessing. And it gave her an opportunity to talk about the loss...

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