Christmas Doesn’t Have to Be Merry
Everyone wants to be happy, especially at Christmas time. However, that happiness feels far away for many of us.
In the last two years, 800,000 Americans have died from COVID-19.  200,000 businesses have closed due to lockdowns, government restrictions, and various other factors related to the pandemic. [2 ] There have been over 7,750 recorded Black Lives Matter riots and protests across the United States. 
When a Catholic bishop told a group of schoolchildren that Santa Claus wasn’t real as part of an effort to re-center the true meaning of Christmas, it backfired horribly, forcing him to apologize. 
It is just one of many happiness-robbing occurrences that have occurred throughout this time of loss, conflict, and grief.
The headlines during this season are hardly full of Christmas cheer. The titles included heart-sinking lines like “Another European Country is Going into Lockdown,”  “The reality of the pandemic is settling in. So is America’s anxiety,” and “Doctor warns ‘there’s a tsunami coming’for the unvaccinated.” 
But wait just a moment.
All news media is designed to scare you. Why? Because news organizations make money off of people clicking on headlines  and people are most likely to click on headlines that scare them. 
That’s not to say that there are not dire straits ahead for both the United States and the world. The pandemic and its associated government restrictions are both very real.
Nonetheless, the promise of Christ’s birth is not undone by the strife and fears of the human world.
How many generations have believed that the world would end within their lifetimes? And how many of them have been wrong?
Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’
declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’”
When the virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus, everything must have seemed like it had gone horribly wrong. According to the nativity story in Luke 2:1-20, Mary and Joseph were far away from their home, having traveled to Bethlehem for the census. There were no lodgings available and Mary was forced to give birth without even a proper roof over her head.
This was certainly a less than ideal situation. It was anything but merry. But that only makes the story all the more poignant.
Indeed, this Christmas may not be merry. But it does not have to be.
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