Christmas has never been my favorite holiday. In fact, before we had my son I spent most of the holiday season in utter discomfort as I tried to find solace in the few elements that I actually enjoyed, like food (duh), family, beautiful decor, and that smell of a real tree. Before you gasp and begin praying for my salvation, hear me out, take a moment to know my story.
I didn’t celebrate Christmas as a child. I grew up in a religion that considers Christmas a pagan holiday and therefore doesn’t acknowledge it. I was taught from early on that Christmas is laced in sin and glutony. Even when I began celebrating in my late teens and early twenties, it was only out of rebellion and conformity. I had very little understanding about the holiday and never felt true joy for the season.
When I got married and began celebrating Christmas with my husband and his family, I did my best to muster up the joy I saw in them, wishing I could sincerely understand that feeling and experience the nostalgia, but that wasn’t my reality. Inside, I was still uncomfortable, compelled by the expectations of the season, secretly resentful of all the people who seemed to delight in something that still felt wrong and painful.
Discovering truth is one thing, but replacing lies with new truths can be much harder. As much as I had grown and experienced healing from the messages of my past, this one thing was deep-rooted in my subconscious and I didn’t know how to shake it no matter how much I tried.
When I became a mom, I began to grapple with this issue in a whole new way. How would I raise my child differently? How could I model joy for the holiday season when I honestly wasn’t experiencing it? How could I teach him that Christmas isn’t about gifts and glutony when I had yet to truly believe that myself?
It didn’t happen right away. The first couple years my son didn’t know Christmas from any other day. But when he was 5 years old, something very unexpected happened. That year on Christmas morning, I found myself stirring like a child, awake before the sun came up, expectant for the magic to come. I was so excited for him to find the evidence of Santa’s arrival that I could barely sleep. I ran out to my Christmas tree to see if my son was awake, but he wasn’t. I was the only one awake in the whole house.
And then it hit me. For the first time, I was experiencing the childlike joy of the season. Through my son, I had been given the magic that was stolen from me as a child. Without my knowing, my heart had been changed and the day was no longer painful but joyful. Sadness and pain had been replaced with joy and excitement. And I finally had a true understanding about what this holiday is all about. It's not about the gifts, the scenery, or dare I say...even the food. It's about the greatest gift, a Savior who came to rewrite and redeem our stories, regardless of how deep-rooted they are.
Merry Christmas to all!
But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; - Luke 2:10
Mia Higgins is a mom of two boys, one in heaven and one here on earth. She and her husband of 10 years relocated from Tampa, FL to Nashville, TN in 2012, in pursuit of new beginnings. Mia's story is one of transformation and hope, from broken to restored. Her passions reflect her story, as she loves creating space for people to encounter God's peace and beauty through atmosphere and experience. Her greatest joy is deep connection and stories of redemption. You can follow Mia on Instragram @miabellahiggins