Beckett: Christmas – A Hard Season for Cynics

My parents divorced right around Christmas. News of their divorced created a waterfall of tears in February 2006, but it wasn’t until late November that year when the divorce was final (legally official). I was 16-years-old at the time. This was in the midst of Thanksgiving and right before Christmas. That year, I didn’t feel like I had much to be thankful for. Also that year, it was the first time I had to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas twice.

Also at this time, all our usual family Christmas traditions were tossed out the door. No more decorating the Christmas tree as a family with ornaments we’ve had since we were babies. No more stockings filled with funny, little toys. No more opening one gift on Christmas Eve night. No more of my dad’s numbering system using the board game Trouble to distribute gifts throughout the family. No more watching A Charlie Brown Christmas and A Christmas Story after opening our Christmas presents. No more Christmas dinners. No more unity.

No more joy during the season of Christmas.

For 13 years now, I’ve always had the Christmas blues at this time and I’ve developed an unfortunate cynicism towards the season. It doesn’t help that Christmas has become highly commercialised with Christ completely taken out of Christmas, replaced with Santa Claus who teaches works righteousness to our children (being good = deserving gifts; being good = deserving salvation).

I miss all the traditions we used to do as a family. I looked forward to them every year. Sure, as a selfish sinner, kid Ricky looked forward to getting presents, but most of all, I looked forward to all the traditions that went along with it.

Now those are all gone. I’ve been getting severely depressed during Christmas for the past 13 years, and as a result I’ve developed a cynicism toward everything Christmas. (Except for the birth of Christ, thankfully.) When my fiancé and I get married in June 2020, we’re both looking forward to bringing traditions back from both our families (both of us come from divorced homes) as well as creating our own traditions to pass down to our children, which this passing down was abruptly interrupted when I was merely 16-years-old.

How do we love the cynic during Christmas? Do you know a cynic? Maybe they’re someone who also comes from a divorced family. Or maybe they have some other trauma attached to it. Either way, the question remains: How do we love the cynic with the Christmas blues?

I don’t think I have a silver bullet answer, but I can at least tell you what makes me feel loved. The first thing is: an invitation to a Christmas party or event. This doesn’t necessarily have to line up on Christmas Day. Yet going out of your way to invite a cynic to some Christmas gathering helps them feel loved and reminds them of Christ’s love for us, which is the whole point of Christmas anyway.

Another helpful thing is: steering away from the materialism of Christmas and focusing instead on a devotional life in the Word of God. Many cynics like me, I think, are sick of the materialism Christmas has become. There have been many Christmases these past 13 years where I haven’t received any Christmas presents, and I’m perfectly fine with that because that’s not what Christmas is about anyway. It’s about Jesus. Every Christmas, I spend time in prayer and devotion, praying for those who cannot celebrate the holiday (such as soldiers) as well as the poor. So, spending time in the Word of God with a cynic during the Christmas season is extremely helpful. Most Christmas cynics, I think, want nothing to do with its materialism anyway.

Another thing, in a somewhat joking manner, is to stop throwing annoying Christmas music in our faces. Seriously. I’m fine with real Christmas hymns, honestly, such as O Little Town of Bethlehem; Silent Night, Holy Night; Away in a Manger; It Came Upon the Midnight Clear; Angels We Have Heard on High; What Child Is This; Hark! The Herald Angels Sing; and others. That’s because these are all real, Christ-centred Christmas songs. What becomes extremely annoying, however, are tunes like “Frosty the Snowman,” “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer,” “Let It Snow,” and other overplayed songs that have nothing to do with anything. So, please, turn off your Christmas radio in the car.

Lastly, share your joy. I mean it. We cynics might seem annoyed by it, but keep sharing your joy. Yet the joy I mean is the joy of the Lord, not the joy of “the Christmas spirit,” which is really just a non-existent thing detracting from the Holy Spirit.

Share the joy of the Lord with a cynic—the joy we sing in one of the real Christmas hymns, Joy to the World, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King!” Invite them to church. Bring them to a Christmas gathering. Maybe even invite them into your home Christmas Day, like the old man who is spending his first Christmas without his wife for the first time after 60 years of marriage because she died earlier that summer. Or that one person at work or church who has no living family.

How else might you love a cynic with the Christmas blues this Christmas? What do you think?

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