Hate Holidays?

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I don’t honor people’s trauma nearly as much as I should on account of the fact that I am the eldest kid of a dysfunctional family, a total survivor, and a bit of a stoic as in, “suck it up buttercup and get over yourself.

Also, I don’t think I’m necessarily wrong. Get your eyes off yourself and onto Jesus. I kid you not, probably 90% of our own suffering stems from our relentless navel gazing. Look up once in while, there’s a whole world going on all around you.

That said, trauma is a real enough thing and it tends to rule over us, making us captives to our unwitting emotional reactions. We often don’t respond to it, instead we simply mindlessly react. It can even get into your body, cause chemical reactions that are very difficult to control, like mindless anxiety. We become like puppets on a string, completely unaware that we have allowed ourselves to become slaves.

I am far too defiant to let anything control me for very long. Also, Jesus came to set the captives free. I take my freedom seriously. Freedom is a part of our inheritance, it is an entitlement, it is a birthright.

Romans 7:15-20 is awesome. The short version, Paul says, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do…” He is lamenting that he has the desire to do good, but he cannot carry it out because in a way he is enslaved. Many of us are still slaves, slaves to sin, slaves to past trauma, slaves to our expectations, slaves to our fear.

There are people walking about in the world who are still slaves to something they experienced 45 years ago. I empathize deeply, these things never go away completely, but they do not have to rule over us and control our relationships, color our perceptions, shape how we feel about holidays.

I love holidays, I love feasting, I love family, but mostly I love them because they have taught me so much about people. Like for example, if the very thought of “family,” causes you to need to pre-load with vodka, we got a relationship fracture, an unresolved trauma going on. We need to hand that over to the Lord and work with Him to find healing, and maybe spend some holidays with someone else’s family for a few years.

Doesn’t even matter whose fault it is, either! I’ve even told my own kids, if you ever require massive amounts of alcohol to be around people you love, then go find some new people to love! It’s a bit of a family joke, “just get a new family,” but seriously there are billions of people on this planet, potential relationships are not scarce. Healthy families don’t take hostages.

Holidays are “holy days,” therefore if they are filling you with unholy things, like triggers and trauma, then change how you do them and who you surround yourself with. I know someone who still goes home every year hoping it will work out with his alcoholic father. It never does. That’s an admirable amount of faithfulness, but you know what? It isn’t required. You are sacrificing yourself for someone who already has a Savior.

My mother, devout atheist, also hates all holidays. To this day she tends to avoid them, even with her own kids and grandkids. Growing up I didn’t even know about things like birthdays, Christmas, the 4th of July. I just saw other people celebrating things and felt left out, deprived. I share that in common with some Jewish kids, Jehovah Witnesses, and some members of the far left who were only allowed to celebrate things like, Saul Alinsky Day.

I can laugh at such things today, but I assure you even the absence of holidays can just build a giant Jenga tower of deeply rooted trauma. True story, I now spend an entire month celebrating my birthday every single day in small ways, just to poke Saul Alinsky in the left eye.

My mother likes to snidely tell people, “Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, not yours.” Maybe on some level that is true in a literal sense, and perhaps it is inadvertently good to remind people of the “reason for the season.” Just the same, those of us in Christ understand that His birthday is our birthday, that His death is our death, and His resurrection is our resurrection. We are seated with Him in heavenly places.

We are also “the least of these,” requiring His care. “What you do for the least of these you do for me.” It may sound a bit narcissistic, but seriously, as the saying goes,” if He is going to take up residence within us, then we need to allow Him to fix the place up a bit.”