It’s Christmas! But It Isn’t

Merry Christmas!  Or since I’m in Russia, Счастливого Рождества!  (Schastlivago Rozhdyestva)

But it’s not actually Christmas.

Today, I worked all day, just like I do on any normal working Monday.  “What?  Why?” I hear you asking.  Because December 25th in Russia is just December 25th.  Life and business goes on as normal.  Offices are operating, schools are in session and shops are open for business.  This isn’t because Russia is a country of godless heathens.  It’s because Russian Orthodox Christmas is on January 7th.  Russian Christmas is still almost two weeks away, even though someone set off fireworks just after midnight this morning by my apartment complex – which I thought was really great.

But still no Christmas spirit for me.

A week ago Saturday as I sat in the teacher’s room preparing the next week’s lessons and getting ready for my classes of the day, my colleague was simultaneously preparing for a Christmas themed demo lesson that she was giving for children that afternoon.  She was making a crafty Christmas tree, preparing Christmas-themed flashcards and humming Jingle Bells.  Other than my Secret Santa treasure trove of gift awesomeness, I still wasn’t spazzing out on my usual Christmas cheer.  Other than my Secret Santa treasure trove of gift awesomeness, it’s been business as usual.  But I thought to myself, why not try to get into the spirit of the season since all of this is happening right beside me?  So I pulled up Mariah Carey’s Christmas playlist on YouTube (because it’s the best Christmas album to sing along with ever!) and played carols while she got ready for her demo lesson.

It didn’t work.  Even humming along with my favourite Christmas album of all time, I was still not feeling it.  After about thirty minutes I turned off the music and we all just continued about our business.

Later that evening after work, I popped out to two different malls to pick up an outfit for the company Christmas party, which is actually two days from now.  It was a week and a half before western Christmas and the malls were busy but it was only the usual Saturday evening level of busyness.  Even though the city’s Christmas trees and decorations have been up for a few weeks now, there were no manic people running around buying everything in sight.  And there were no nightmare traffic jams in the parking lots or on the roads.  All was just…normal.  I knew that was the exact opposite of what was happening at that very moment in other places in the world.  And although I dislike all of that craziness, I wonder now if it helped to fuel my own Christmas crazy.

My continued lack of Christmas cheer hasn’t surprised me for the past two Christmases but it’s surprised me a little bit this year, specifically because I live in a winter wonderland.  What better place is there to spazz out on Christmas??

Meanwhile, someone I know in Jamaica messaged me last week and said she knew that I wished I was there for Christmas.  My response was a passionate, “Nope.  Nope.  Nope.”  I don’t miss anything about all that I’m “missing” this year.  I don’t miss the search for perfect gifts for ten different people, even though I love the feeling I get when I nail the perfect gifts.  I don’t miss braving throngs of people if I want to buy a stick of gum. And as I’ve said before, my family isn’t big on celebrating anything so I don’t miss spending the day sitting around with nothing meaningful happening.  My mom’s Christmas cake is the best in the entire world but even that I can’t say I miss, although I’d devour it without batting an eyelash if I had one with me now.  So maybe Russia, where Christmas isn’t Christmas, is a good place for me to be right now.

No worries though, I’m pretty sure I haven’t morphed into Scrooge or the Grinch.  If I had, I wouldn’t have gone buck wild for Secret Santa.  As much as God has been changing me over the past three years, maybe it’s just that I’m still in transition when it comes to Christmas.  Or maybe it’s because I know it’s not really Christmas here yet.  Ah, well, we’ll see what happens when Russian Christmas rolls around.

Wait!  I just realised something.  Christmas is the anniversary of the beginning of those big changes God started making in my life three years ago.  It’s literally been exactly three years.  It all started happening a couple of days before Christmas, resulting in the most uncomfortable and awkward Christmas of my life.  Lord, please tell me that Christmas hasn’t been tainted by what was also the best thing to happen to me!

I actually don’t even think about that time anymore and if I hadn’t been writing about this and digging deep to see if there was some stone I was leaving unturned, I wouldn’t have even remembered that this is an anniversary of sorts for me.

No, by the grace of God, no.  If that’s what has been dulling my Christmas cheer then I say, no.  My Christmas future will not be negatively affected by all of that.  You know why?  That Christmas three years ago, God saved me, just like he did over two thousand years ago when Jesus was born in a stable so that He could become a sacrifice for my sins.  That means that, so far that I’m aware of, God has personally saved me twice on Christmas.  That’s my Christmas anniversary memory.

For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.  Luke 2:11 (NASB)

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