When You Can’t Find the Merry in Your Christmas

It’s here whether we like it or not—Christmas.

For many this season is filled with the fullness of family togetherness. The turkey with all the trimmings. It is the time for unwrapping the red-ribbon-gift we placed first on our list. It is the season of sparkly lights and the steady fragrance of evergreen. Cut trees dressed and centered in our homes displaying ornamented memories and present day mementos of our own Christmas present and pasts.

For others—like us— it will be the first without our most cherished loved one (R.I.P Dad Brown). It is the season of skipping to pay the rent in order to afford to put something under the Christmas tree. The homeless among us will seek to find a warmer cover, an even hotter cup to grip away the cruelty of the cold.

Christmas can fill you with joy and wonder and Christmas can make you feel marginalized and alone.

I’ll never forget the Christmas Mommy and I were all set and packed to visit my Grandmother Patricia in Kalamazoo, Michigan for the last time. It would be the last time because cancer… well,  cancer said so. “Gabby” had battled hard and surrendered even stronger to the fight. She was still trying to hold on for us though. Mommy and I had our tickets ready on the dining room table. We were sad but excited to have the opportunity to say our final good-bye. We were flying out of Portland bright and early the following morning, but we didn’t make it in time. 

Just a few hours before “the call” I sat in our family living room, wrapped in the strong arms of my brand new fiancée. My then boyfriend of two years had popped the question and presented the ring on Christmas Eve. The same ring I was staring at when down the hall I heard my mother scream. Her daughter-griefed-weeping followed, and I knew Gabby was gone.

The sparkle of my new ring and the glare from my streaming tears were both there at that moment, right there at the same time.

Christmas can give you your most desired longing, and it can deliver your greatest heartbreak.

This season, once again I feel like I’m holding a little bit of both possibility and grief. Possibility in that this same Jewish baby Jesus who made His way through oppression, homelessness and rejection will continue to find rescue, covering and favor for me. Grief in knowing that I can’t control the timing of death, the depths and disgust of man’s broken humanity or the schemes and snares of our raging enemy.

But like my ring and my tears I will continue to hold both. This tension of both possibility and grief are calling forth a deeper vulnerability in me, a deeper desperation to both be cherished and rescued.

This Christmas I am desperate to find true meaning in both the unwrapping and the grabbing hold of our Immanuel—God with us, God with me. I’m being drawn to get closer to the Christ child and not Christmas, the holiday. You don’t have to find the “merry” in your Christmas if it’s not there. Just draw near to Him.

Jesus of our possibilities.

Jesus acquainted with our grief.

Jesus of Christmas who knows each of us—that Baby from the manger who knew just how to “be.”

Velynn Brown

Velynn Brown

Writer at Quenched
My heart beats for the underdog, underprivileged and underloved—because that is the backdrop of my own story. I am a Jesus-following, redeemed Church Girl who wakes up every morning in desperate need of a touch by the One who keeps me thirsting for more.

Quenched is the place where I jump deep into real life, redemption and community. I love being my husband's girlfriend and Momma to our three amazing children, I call my Brown Sugar Babies. I also love big hair, big dreams, my big God and the big family and community I come from. I am currently working on publishing my memoir, Gospel Song in the Rain.
Velynn Brown

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  • Jody Ohlsen Collins

    V, this line is powerful, “This tension of both possibility and grief are calling forth a deeper vulnerability in me, a deeper desperation to both be cherished and rescued.”
    When our desperation draws us to the Savior we can be safe.
    Well said my friend.

    • Velynn

      Bless you Jody. The “tension is real” and yet He is always available to carry it for us. I so often forget that I am truly His child-despite this world, despite difficult situations-despite the pain. Immanuel is with me-with-me-through-and-in-it-all.

  • Mesu Andrews

    Love you, precious sis. Praying for you this season in the merry and the melancholy. Holding you close in my heart.

  • Oh, Velynn, this is beautiful and aching. Just what my heart needs this Christmas.