Why There Is Unusual Comfort at Christmas

The older I get the more I feel an unusual comfort at Christmas. It wasn’t always that way. When I was a young child I remember having severe stomach aches and sad feelings at Christmastime. Maybe it was an illness. Maybe it was some sort of mental challenge. Whatever it was, it wasn’t fun. When I should have had the joie de vivre that any kid has at Christmas, there were a couple of years where I really felt buried under.

Closeup photo of family feet in wool socks at fireplace

Now I love this time of year and the comfort that it brings. I love going to the grocery store and seeing more smiles on faces, extra energy, and the displays that entice me to buy things that are unavailable other times of the year. There’s comfort in the hymns that we get to sing in church, with words like “All praise, eternal Son, to Thee, whose Advent (coming) sets Thy people free.” I can’t wait to eat the coffee cake my wife makes for us every Christmas morning (even though she doesn’t really like it; it wouldn’t be Christmas for me without it). It’s the same coffee cake my mom used to make for years and years, and now we have it in our home every Christmas (it’s a true “comfort” food).

There’s comfort in seeing Rudolph and Charlie Brown and Frosty. And even though I’m pretty sick of some of the Christmas music on the radio (can we please get rid of that Mariah Carey song??? …I won’t even mention it by name…), there is a certain contentment in resurrecting particular songs year after year (my “go-to” album has become Over the Rhine’s Snow Angels … check it out and see if you don’t agree with me that there is some hauntingly beautiful music that simple must be resurrected every year).

These are the ways and places I find an unusual comfort during the holiday season. But I think it’s what lies behind them that brings the reason for unusual comfort at Christmas. As I thought about it I realized the thing that really brings comfort can be boiled down to one word: Tradition.

Tradition has gained a bad reputation in this day and age of new technology when everything has to be up-to-date and “relevant.” But there’s a reason why A Charlie Brown Christmas has been shown for fifty years. There’s a reason why I enjoy my wife’s coffee cake on Christmas morning. There’s a reason why the liturgy of the church and many of its hymns have lasted for generation after generation.

Tradition is why there is an unusual comfort for me at Christmas. Here’s why:

  1. Tradition reminds us that others have gone before us. I find comfort in knowing that generations before me have celebrated a World-Changing Event in the same way that I do. They have spoken the same liturgy, sung the same hymns, even seen the same simple TV shows.
  2. Tradition reveals the things that have stood the test of time. There is comfort in things that are well done, that one generation hands to the next. The older I get, the more I appreciate the things that aren’t “cheap,” the things that have quality.
  3. Tradition respects the richness of things that remain the same. In other words, there is comfort in things that are known, things that are understood, things that we’ve experienced before and bring back memories of joy, security, and contentment.

All of this put together brings about the unusual comfort that is felt during the Christmas season. So enjoy those old songs, enjoy those classic TV shows, enjoy that ancient liturgy. It’s all comfortable like an old pair of jeans or the soft clothes you put on at the end of the day. Celebrate the joie de vivre and the spirit of the Holiday.

Where do you find comfort during the holiday season?

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