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About Faith: Christmas, Blue and White
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As you listen to Christmas music on the radio, you may notice two songs that get played more often than others.

The first is "Blue Christmas," written by Billy Hayes and Jay Johnson. The most famous version is by Elvis Presley, but it was first recorded in 1948 by Ernest Tubbs, and has since been recorded by more than 65 artists.

The second is even more popular, "White Christmas," written by Irving Berlin, and the best-selling single of all time.

What makes these songs so popular is that they speak to all of us about the fact that we are not always "merry and bright" throughout the season.

While Christmas is supposed to be a season of joy, it is often a time of sadness, poignancy, and bittersweet memories. Our senses capture the myriad sounds, smells, tastes, and visual images of Christmas, any of which can trigger painful memories when we least expect it. We love to sing the merry Christmas tunes, but the blue notes make our heartstrings vibrate whenever Bing Crosby or Elvis Presley get airtime.

Theologically, there is much to rejoice over (our savior is born!), and there is much to lament (his redeeming work is not yet complete). There is room for joy and sadness in the time between the Already and the Not Yet.

Most of the time, we experience joy and sadness on a more personal level. We are filled with joy when we share a "first Christmas" with a new baby. We feel unspeakable loss when death or divorce causes us to have that first Christmas without a loved one. I hear it often: "My husband (or wife) died on Christmas Day (or the week before, or the month before)."

In truth, the date doesn’t matter. What matters is, they are not here, and so much of our life’s happiness has been linked with them. While the joy of Christmas is something we can share, the sadness is something we usually experience alone.

Sometimes we don’t even need a negative event to have a blue Christmas. Depression is a chemical imbalance often unrelated to the circumstances of our lives. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a recognized variation of general depression which is common when the weather gets gloomier and the days shorter. Those who suffer in this way often face the added guilt of not being happy when they are supposed to be jolly. Well-meaning friends try to cheer them up by reminding them of all they should be thankful for. The best friends climb into the gloom with them and sit for awhile, holding their hand.

A particular joy at Christmas is found in the knowledge that we are not alone. Perhaps comfort is a better word, for we can feel it even when the joy eludes us. Emmanuel ("God with us") does not abandon us to suffer the gloom of darkness in solitude, but hastens to lead us to the cheery fireside, to sit awhile, and hold our hand.

How much easier it would have been for God to stay in heaven where all the angels sing his praises! But while the Christmas story begins in heaven, it ends with a child born into this world to be our friend. May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be white.