Christmas carols can elicit a lot of emotions, probably mostly good. But let’s be honest. Stores seem to start playing Christmas music earlier and earlier every year, and it can get a little tiring hearing “Deck the Halls” everywhere you go.
If you sat down to name them, you could probably only come up with 15-20 Christmas carols. These same songs play on repeat during the whole month of December, so it’s not hard to see why we may roll our eyes and tune them out at times.
But if you look carefully at the lyrics of some of these sacred hymns, as they tell the good news of the coming of the long-awaited Savior, it may remind you of why we celebrate Christmas to begin with.
- O Come, O Come, Emmanuel … tells of a longing for the birth of Christ- with the hopeful expectation that he will save us.
- Hark! The Herald Angels Sing… is a song of worship that paints a picture of the angels in heaven singing “Glory to the newborn King.”
- O Holy Night… expresses the solemnness of God himself being born on earth to save us.
- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen… tells the story and purpose of Christ’s birth and exclaims “Oh tidings of comfort and joy.”
Whether it happened in December or not, the birth of Christ is vitally significant to Christians.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
Not only so, but this time of year can be joyful and magical, especially for children.
It might bring to mind a painting of a cute family sitting by the fireplace, stockings hung, with lights from the perfectly decorated tree twinkling in the background while a kind grandfather reads Twas the Night Before Christmas to happy children sitting quietly at his feet.
But it is ironically also one of the most difficult times of the year for a lot of people. Particularly so for drug addicts and those in recovery. Some people will spend Christmas in jail or alone in a hotel room or in a tent under an overpass this year.
Additionally, the pressure of unrealistic expectations surrounding the holidays (financial and otherwise) can cause a particularly isolating kind of depression and loneliness for some.
Let’s face it. Holidays like Christmas and New Years are a time to eat, drink and be merry. But a time of fun social drinking for some may be hard to navigate around for the recovering alcoholic.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), drug overdose deaths have increased about 29% just because of the pandemic.
Statistics from this study conducted by axialHealthcare are very sobering:
“Using our database of more than 100 million lives, we looked at drug overdose trends between Thanksgiving and New Years for more than 400,000 members in a Medicaid population located in the Southeast. The drug overdose rate during the holidays was 22% higher than the previous non-holiday weeks.”
Although some will be eligible for a pass to spend Christmas day with their families, every year about 40 men will spend most of their Christmas holidays in “rehab” at His Way. They will have parties and good food brought to them, and to many of them, it will beat the alternative.
But it wouldn’t be anyone’s first choice. It is not the painting of the family by the fireplace.
Perhaps the “Comforting Carols” are more important to us than we think. Maybe if we focus on the words, the message in them will really feel like “tidings of comfort and joy” rather than an annoyance.
Maybe Christmas could be a time when we reflect, as “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” tells us,
All ye beneath life’s crushing load
Whose forms are bending low
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow
Look now for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing
O rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing
Let’s pray for all the suffering and lonely souls this season, particularly those who are in the heat of the battle with their addictions. That they will have cause to sing like the angels because Christ was born to save us from our troubles.