It occurred to me recently that my favourite childhood Christmas shows are full of rejection, bullying, and ostracizing. Rudolph laughed at and called names, the Grinch exiled at the top of a mountain, and Charlie Brown mocked at every turn. Merry and bright indeed.

Sure they all have happy, almost heroic, endings. But, imbedded in those little Dolly Madison sponsored episodes is the fact that this can be a really tough time of year.

The 25th of December doesn’t know it’s Christmas. I have friends that will be spending it in their daughter’s hospital room. Others who will be just getting used to the idea of their dad being in Palliative care. The weight of loss and loneliness amplified because of the season.

The holiday seems to teeter on an edge between joy and sorrow. One time our tree fell over and my then four year old exclaimed “Christmas is ruined”.   Everything has to go according to plan or it can all come crashing down in a pile of disappointment.

I tried for many years to conjure up the feelings that I thought I should have. I finally gave up. Whatever happens, happens. I thoroughly enjoy the collective agreement to change things up for a few days, slow down, drink egg nog (whatever that is), and consider others before myself. I like that music changes and we all are happy to listen to the same ten songs sung by everyone from the Tragically Hip to Pavorotti. I like the excuse to connect and gather around food, drink, family, and friendship.

And I like the story of Mary and Joseph: Oppressive Romans, No room at the Inn, the shepherds, wise men, and of course the mysterious, wonderous child.

Christmas is all of it. Sometimes you don’t get to play in the reindeer games, and other times you lead the sleigh.