Christmas letters. That one time each year that you can summarize all of the fabulous things that have happened in your life over the past 12 months in one cheery, perfect message!
Susie made the Honor Roll… again… and had the lead in the school broadway production. Jimmy was voted MVP in each of his 5 Club Sports travel teams. Your spouse is the best thing that ever happened to you! The family Disney Cruise was the highlight as you celebrated 30 blissful years of marriage! Even your family dog was top in his obedience classes. Ahhh, life is good…. no, according to your letter… perfect!
Can you feel the sarcasm dripping from my words? If you are a cheery Christmas Letter writer, I apologize. There was once a time in my life that I was able to write a letter that summed it all up in a perfect package. Once upon a time. Then life began happening and I found it more and more difficult to write a letter…eventually stopping altogether.
Do you really want to know how one’s year has gone? Do you really want the honest truth about each family member and their struggles? I’m always amazed that on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of cheery Christmas paper, a story can be told that paints a picture of perfection… even when it hasn’t been.
Being that person that wears her heart on her shirt sleeve and is as transparent as one could possibly be, I am no longer able to compose a Christmas letter. If I did, you would immediately remove me from your Christmas card mailing list and would want to “unfriend” me from sending one to you! At this point in my life, an honest compilation of our year would be too raw and real.
I joke that FB is like a 27/7/365 Christmas letter! Amazing family celebrations… fabulous vacations… beautiful home remodels… daily reports of the many things accomplished… perfect children and grandchildren. I’m guilty at times, for I only like to post positive things or words that encourage. I don’t generally air my dirty laundry publicly. When you post a cheery family photo the comments come back that you look so happy and your life is so great! Really?
My recently posted family selfie at the Thanksgiving table portrayed us all as smiling and happy! It must have been a beautiful day! Well, there were moments that were sweet and then there were the other parts that were amazingly stressful and hard. But the family photo spoke a different story.
What do we want people to really know about us? Do we want people to know that our life is difficult and full of heartache? Or do we want people to think that we’ve got it all together? When you ask someone how they are, do you really want to know?
This Advent season I’ve been thinking about the extraordinary thing that happened to an ordinary woman 2000+ years ago in that plain stable. What would Mary and Joseph’s Christmas letter have said? Her journey was anything but easy and beautiful. They traveled long and far to find themselves without a place to rest while Mary gave birth. No resort upgrades for them. No room service or WiFi. Raw, real and full of grace. A few visitors. No family selfie to remember the event.
I’m desperately trying to find balance in this world of social media. I want to share in the joys and celebrations of my friends and family without feeling “less than” when I’m done. I did not take a fancy vacation this summer, but found myself posting river pictures every weekend in hopes that you would all see that my life is not a total loss! How sad is that? While my Thanksgiving day was not at all what I’d hoped for, I forced a family photo so you could all think that my life is “normal” just like yours. It’s not. It’s the life I’ve been blessed with, but it’s not like most others. We struggle and grapple and pray… every day. Christmas this year will not be what my heart longs for, but the photo’s I post of my decorations will lead you to believe otherwise. Again… how sad is that?
My hope this Advent is that I will not try to be anything but who I really am. My cries to my Savior are honest and real and raw. I long for honest and real and raw relationships with people. As the year comes to an end, I will once again re-evaluate whether or not I want to continue with FB. I long for that connection, but need to figure out how to stay connected without losing my perspective on life.
My prayer for all of us is that this season can be a time to be honest and real and raw with ourselves and those we love. I am going to believe in God’s grace for those things that may seem impossible.