Okay, so I grant you that it's a little late to be talking about Christmas. By this time of year, everyone is heartily sick of Christmas. (And then Easter eggs creep into the shops.)
It's just that Christmas has been a little different for my family this year. My mother died two days after Christmas last year, so memories of last Christmas, which was not like Christmas at all, were bound to crop up. Around the same time last year a few people from my church died. This year, some people at church also lost family members, including a tiny newborn baby, and one of my good friends lost her father just two days before Christmas.
It always seems to shock people when things like that happen around Christmas. It just seems such a bad time. As one of the only annual, major celebrations we have, if something happens then, it sticks with us every time we celebrate in years to come. Heck, my mum's death has stuck with me every single day over the past year.
All the same, as much as I was expecting the Christmas of 2006 to be pretty bad, it just didn't turn out that way. It probably helped that we were away from home. But at the same time, there's something about so much death suddenly coming at Christmas, for myself and the people I know, that makes me see so much more clearly why it was that Jesus needed to be here. Which isn't a bad thing, when you come to think of it.
Death is not the opposite of Christmas. It is the reason for it. When I'm getting sick of corny Christmas jingles and materialism, death is the wake-up call that makes me see through to something more raw, more essential, about Christmas.