The Christmas Letdown
The run-up to Christmas was always exciting when I was a child. My brother and sister and I would start thinking about it in September, when we wrote the first of our many Christmas wish lists. We repeatedly paged through the Sears Wish Book catalog, which featured the most popular toys. Once Thanksgiving passed, we’d get weekly circulars from the local stores advertising countless gift ideas. December was filled with school Christmas programs, church Christmas pageants, cookie baking, tree decorating, and so much more all in the lead-up to the holiday.
For several years, my mother was the choir director at our church, and my father oversaw the ushers. So, we had to be at both the 7:30 and 11 p.m. church services on Christmas Eve. Then, it was off to bed, and it was hard to sleep, because we knew our parents were setting up our presents in the living room. Waking up early on Christmas morning, we went to our parents’ bedroom again and again, trying to convince them to get up (we had to go out to the living room together), while they kept saying, “Not yet.” Finally, we made it out to the living room, where we spent the morning opening presents, playing with new toys, and enjoying the day.
Sometime that afternoon, however, it hit—the Christmas letdown. After all the hype and anticipation, it would all seem like, well, not such a big deal. As good as Christmas and all its trappings were—and they were always good—the reality could not match the expectation. There was a sense that there was something better, that there was yet more that could be ours.
Maybe you’ve never had that feeling related to Christmas, but you’ve felt it somewhere. On this side of glory, nothing ever quite matches up to our hopes and dreams. That does not mean everything is bad, but just that the good things of life never deliver on all the promises we’ve attached to them. We may land a dream career, but there are days on the job when we wonder if there is anything more. We have a happy, fulfilling marriage, but we realize that it doesn’t offer all that we thought it would. We prosper, but we always want just a little more.
Much of our dissatisfaction is due to sin. But even if we were not fallen, we would long for more. We were, to paraphrase Augustine, made for God, and we will experience restlessness until we see Him face-to-face. We groan inwardly, Paul tells us in Romans 8, longing for the restoration of all things. We know in our heart of hearts that we exist for something more, something better than what created things can offer.
Thanks be to God, we know that if we are in Christ, something more and better is guaranteed to us. A day is coming when our faith will be sight, when we will touch infinity, as it were, for we will be in the presence of our infinite Creator. On that day, we will no longer experience dissatisfaction or anything like the Christmas letdown. For the Christian, the best is truly yet to come.