By Homer McQueen
Special to the Herald Democrat

 First the bad news. Then, the good news. 

     A week before Christmas Eve, and the stress of preparing for the holiday has exploded.

     You thought your outdoor decorations were going to impress the neighbors, with lights that blink to the rhythm of “Here Comes Santa Claus.”  Then, Mr. Griswold next door installed a lighting display that could be seen from the International Space Station, with robotic elves on the lawn singing a medley of Yuletide songs. 

     You remembered the fruitcake you sent a former friend several years ago, apparently regifted several times before you got it back from someone else shortly after Thanksgiving last year.

    You wanted to make sure a special someone would be pleased with the gift you ordered online to compensate for the one they returned to the store last time.  You got an e-mail yesterday that said the expected arrival date has been changed to January third.

     Someone dear to you is no longer in your life, and mourning has begun again.

     And, the bills- way beyond your budget.

     Is this really the season to be jolly?

     Because this is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, everyone is making a point of being extra nice.  Smiling at strangers and wishing them a happy holiday, giving to charities and the beggar on the street corner.  The sound of familiar upbeat songs fills the air.  The ugly sweaters and the elaborate living room decorations that would seem tacky any other time of the year are embraced fervently. Despite the weather forecast, we dream of a white Christmas.     

    And. all of the ‘fa la la la la la la’ makes you feel guilty about being grinchy, as if you’re the only one. 

     I’ve been there.  Annually.  What works for me is remembering the reason for the season. God created us and gave us everything that pertains to life and godliness.  Then, we paid Him back with disrespect.  Instead of destroying the human race, He loved us so much He gave us the first and best Christmas gift, Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, who left his home in Heaven to live and die for us.

     With an attitude of gratitude, knowing I can’t give anything to the One who owns everything, I seek to honor Him with love for those He loves, which is everyone. 

     A naturally impossible task.  But, with God all things are possible.

     Christmas is a time that we pay forward the love Christ lavished, and yet lavishes on us.  It’s an honor.  Meeting someone else’s need gives purpose to life.  So, let there be joy.

Homer McQueen

Homer McQueen serves as assistant pastor of Mt. Carmel Church of God in Christ, secretary at In His Shadow Outreach Ministries, chaplain for the Sherman District Parole Office, ministry volunteer for the Texas Youth Commission and Texas Department of Criminal Justice, a part-time pharmacist, and a full-time husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.