The other day I was standing in the chips and snacks aisle of a large grocery store. I was trying to find something crunchy to pair with the sweet potato hummus I made for a Christmas party, when a total stranger approached me.
“Do you like olives?” he asked point blank, startling me out of my snack-food reverie.
“Sure,” I answered. “Why do you ask?”
He held up the bag of olive-infused tortilla chips he was carrying and declared they were “absolutely amazing!”
I thanked him for his passionate recommendation. Then, I proceeded to explain that I don’t like to eat corn. He asked me why, so I shared my deeply personal reasons — which weren’t all that deep or personal. When I finished my short and rather boring explanation, he said something I could never have anticipated.
“I don’t think corn is from our planet,” he disclosed with all earnestness. Then, he went on to present his case, which was grounded in his suspicion of it being the only plant that doesn’t self-regenerate.
Whether or not this was true, I had no idea. But before I could respond, he turned to leave. Holding tightly to his bag of alien corn chips, he walked quickly away exclaiming, “and I don’t think spiders are from our planet either!”
As I turned back to my task, I wondered if intergalactic maize-eating arachnids were one of the secrets hidden in Area 51. I wondered, too, if this gentleman just needed someone to talk to — if only for a minute in passing.
We might not share the same views, but as crazy as it sounds I immensely enjoyed the interaction! Since I spend most of my time by myself, I can relate to wanting to tell someone something. I can also relate to wanting to find connection in a world where one can feel so alone.
I think that’s why I look forward to every Christmas party I get invited to, and why I deliberate over the perfect chip for my dip. For those of us who are single, whose children are grown and living their own lives, Christmas can be a lonely time of year. I know it’s still a season to celebrate Jesus coming to Earth. Yet, that’s a whole lot easier when our children are little and our dreams are big.
For some reason, this year feels very different than years past. So different, in fact, my daughter and I decided to forego our hunt for the perfect Christmas tree. Yet, the more I thought about it, the more depressing it felt not to decorate for the holiday. Even if we weren’t going to trek up into the mountains for a tree, I had to do something to bring good cheer into my heart and home.
So, after abandoning the chip idea in lieu of celery, I went straight home and got the decorations out of the garage. Then, I popped a Christmas album in the CD player. Singing cheerily along with the music, I had my own private Christmas party!
I had fun placing my nativity set on the mantle and unpacking a 12-inch tree to display on a table. After adding a few more decorations and some tiny white lights, my apartment — and my emotions — were transformed! It was beginning to look and feel a lot like Christmas! Even though both the look and the feel of it were changing with time, I knew Jesus remained gloriously unchanged.
Being reminded of God’s goodness was exactly what I needed. Feeling confident in His love, and in my choice of celery to pair with the hummus, I arrived at the first Christmas party of the season with joy in my heart. As we talked and laughed, playing my favorite gift-exchange stealing game, I knew everything was going to be okay.
In fact, everything would always be okay, because even when we feel lonely we are never alone. Our children can grow up. Our Christmas traditions can fade away. But there is one thing that will never fade away — God’s love for us.
Even when the Christmas season finds our own hearts filled with more longing than wonder, we needn’t be afraid. In the end, it’s not about the tree or the trimmings. It’s about Jesus . . . because God so loved the world!
Want more? Check out Christmas – A Difficult Time of Year.