A friend of mine sent me an email the other day with the cryptic subject line: Oxymoronic Invitation. “Come hear Holiday Blues at Neil’s (a local restaurant/bar that hosts twice-a-month jam sessions for Memphis blues musicians).” But her double entendre about the holiday music and holiday depression didn’t seem like an oxymoron at all. Instead, I deemed it redundant. I am often “blue” and down in the dumps during the holiday season.
I want to relish the contemplative time of Advent, but instead I dread Christmas. The precious four weeks of potential spiritual preparation become anxious days of worry about the BIG DAY. What presents do my children want? Who have I forgotten? I’m a terrible gift giver and most of my friends and family don’t want presents anyway. Then there’s the decorations, the dinner…. With such a frantic, frenetic buildup, there’s little chance Christmas can match up to the picture-book expectations year after year. So color me blue and depressed during December.
Maybe I’m just having humbug thoughts typical of 3AM musings. But maybe being blue is just the point. Those dark weeks of Advent are a reenactment of a people’s longing for a savior. When I focus all of my energy on the trappings of the season, I am still bound, still in need of that savior. Psalms 130 captures my despair: “Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.” (Psalms 130: 1-2, 5 NIV) . Like the Psalmist I say “Come quickly, Lord.” “Come, Jesus, and set me free once again.”