When the Holidays are Over
There is a night and day difference between traveling with someone and traveling alone.
When I have traveling companions, delays are more bearable and getting lost is a funny adventure. With a friend, I am bolder and more likely to venture off the beaten path to find that amazing view or unique restaurant.
Alone, I find even the airport security process more daunting. I am hyper vigilant as I scan the crowds and hold my bag more tightly. The entire trip seems colorless without someone I can share the memories and retell the stories with.
The end of vacations or holidays feels like traveling alone. The world goes from glowing color to black and white, and my energy plummets. I long to go back a day or week before when there were extra faces at the table. I miss the laughter, the anticipation, and the sense of togetherness. That hard to shake let-down feeling is all I am left with.
I get those blues when summer is over, after Thanksgiving, and after big family gatherings.
Many of us feel the same way after Christmas. Maybe you do too.
If we get caught up in the culture of Christmas, it’s almost inevitable. Gone are the lights, the food, the movies, the songs, the parties, and the gifts. The cheery greetings from store employees or people you pass on the sidewalk are no longer heard. The sense of something shared by the whole community has slipped away and the disconnect returns.
But we don’t need to feel alone or abandoned if we remember the Christ of Christmas. His name is Immanuel - God with us. He did not come for a season. He came to stay.
When you go back to a desk piled high and an overflowing email inbox, He is there. As you care for children or parents, or both - He is with you. That illness or financial burden is not carried alone, but shared by a friend who will not leave us on our own.
Even if we live alone, we don’t have to spend our days or evenings in silence. The one who said, “Come follow me,” and “I am with you always,” is only a breath away. Some of Jesus’ last earthly words to his disciples are not only a command, but an invitation.
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete (John 15:4,9-11).
Some Bible translations use the word “abide” instead of remain. Abide - dwell, stay, continue. Jesus promised that he would stay with his disciples, and that their joy would be complete! The question was not whether or not he would be there - but whether they would stay connected to him.
Christmas is not a day, an event, or even a season. It is the beginning of an ongoing relationship. That means that it is never truly over, and we do not travel alone. Immanuel is here to stay!
Take heart, friends. The holidays are not over. We still have something to celebrate! A Light has come that outlasts the twinkling outdoor displays of December. Wonderful stories remain to be told, and there are songs of joy to be sung that will ring throughout eternity.