Bridget’s cards won their internet moment not just because they’re clever and funny, but because they articulate that thought and the way it can become so explosive during the holidays: All this jollity rings false to me. Everyone, no matter what their relationship status, feels a little like Bridget this time of year — outcast, exiled, discontent; her cards capture a sentiment heartfelt enough to catch the attention of millions of newsfeed browsers but also noncontroversial enough to bypass the conformity threshold. Hark! Bridget has tapped our inner misfit, which emerges in a guffaw like a genie from a bottle. Isn’t that a gas?
Meanwhile, Sarah Condon ponders yuletide misery from a theological point of view:
Whether or not we realize it, we pointedly deny the harsh realities of our lives this time of year. I know I do. The moment we remember Jesus coming into the world is the same moment we hold up our perfectly posed Christmas photos. To the one who came to save us we say, “See how good we look? We are totally pulling this off.”
Only, we are not pulling it off, not even remotely. We are disappointed in our children, our spouses, the world, and ourselves. We deny our feelings of loneliness and inadequacy. We scurry to hide them. And the season provides some pretty amazing crutches for our denial: Jim Beam, party mix, and online shopping. All of a sudden, it becomes easy to make failure look like success. To make heartache look like mildly hungover.
Isn’t it odd that, more than any other time of year, Christmastime is when we want everyone to know just how glorious our lives are? I’m already bracing myself for the post-Christmas newsfeed. We can all gather round the old iPhone and sing a hymn of Sanctification by Gift Giving. For the record #besthusbandever #fairtrade and #santarocks are my own self-righteous picks for the season.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. We are actually allowed to admit that we are screwed up, yes, even at Christmas. Let the record show, St. Paul already gave us the bones in Romans 7: I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.