In dark days, we can look for reason why Christmas should be merry

Christmas, for many in our society, is supposed to be all about comfort and joy, family, presents, generosity toward the less fortunate and, for some, remembering why we celebrate the holiday in the first place: the birth of Jesus Christ.
We’re in the “wonderful time of the year” but it’s been a difficult slog to get here. We know we’re not telling anybody anything they don’t already know when we note that 2020 has been a tough one. In fact, we hate to say it because we don’t want to remind ourselves or anyone else of that grim fact.
We’ve seen COVID deaths and paranoia at all levels, resulting in a virtual collapse of normalcy as we know it – especially for our young people, daily uncertainty, the highs and lows of election-year politics, and the ugliness of civil unrest.
Now here we are: No (live Christmas concerts, no parades, no events (that are being publicized, anyway), warnings against large gatherings and interacting with loved ones from afar. This is decidedly not what we normally associate with this time of the year.
Scrooge or the Grinch would be happy.
As a whole, we Americans have not experienced hard times, dark days. Although some among us have experienced the tail end of the Great Depression and restrictions on daily activities during World War II, let’s face it: In general most of us have had it pretty good. There’s a reason why recent eras have been designated by words such as “Bubble” and “Race.”
So we’re a little shaken up when government officials force local businesses to close, and in some cases, fail. We’re upset when kids can’t go to school – and for good reason: We see effects on family life and mental health and social development that are not good.
We are disturbed that we can’t go about life in the normal fashion, can’t interact with friends and business associates except on a computer screen, can’t be sure what is going to happen next. And there’s always that possibility that we might get this thing too.
In dark days, we find ourselves asking questions we really should, frankly, ask more frequently: What’s most crucial in life, anyway?
One answer is suggested by the biblical prophet Isaiah, who proclaimed, 600 years before the birth of Christ: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:2)
A few verses later, Isaiah adds: “For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given.” (verse 6)
Anyone who’s heard the great oratorio by George Frederick Handel, “The Messiah,” is familiar with those words. Unfortunately, there is a lot of deep meaning in “The Messiah” that is lost to those unfamiliar with the Bible, from which it comes.
The Messiah, predicted during dark days by Old Testament prophets, was to bring light and peace with God for mankind.
It’s pretty obvious, looking around, that the self-assuredness many of us felt as we roared into 2020 isn’t quite as steady as we might have thought. All in all, we have to admit, it was looking like a great year – until dark days hit.
Frankly, when all else fails, there may be hope not where we were looking for it when life was great. In the midst of the Grinch-ness of 2020, it might be advisable to reflect this year on the reason why we have a Christmas at all.