Theology for Millennials: Dark Christmas

The Christmas of Those that Cannot Live It as Everyone Else

Dark Christmas
Christmas working © Canva

In “Theology for Millennials,” Mexican Father Mario Arroyo Martínez shares with Exaudi’s readers his weekly article entitled “Dark Christmas,” in which he reflects on the “other hidden Christmas, “ the Christmas of those that couldn’t live it like everyone else.

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Traditionally, during Christmas, everything is clothed in light and color. The little lights that go on and off symbolize joy. Jesus Christ, Light of the world, has come to bring us hope. Traditionally it’s the family celebration par excellence, where the exchange of gifts shows that we are important to one another. However, there is “another hidden Christmas,” the Christmas of those that can’t live it like all the rest, and that sometimes becomes a dark Christmas: we must not forget this. May these lines be a recognition of all those that live Christmas this way.

I’m thinking, in the first place, of all those that spend Christmas working. They have no other options. The world continues to turn, everything can’t stop, and it needs some people to sacrifice themselves by serving others so that everything can happen in order and harmony. I’m thinking of doctors who have to carry out emergency interventions; women nurses that are looking after patients, male nurses that must attend an elderly man with senile dementia. The list can be extended as much as one likes: policemen, hotel janitors, pilots and stewardesses, public cleaning personnel, waiters of restaurants that offer Christmas or New Year’s dinners. Adding them little by little they are a silent army of people that serve so that many others can enjoy a pleasant Christmas.

In the second place, I’m thinking of sad Christmases, of those <people> that will spend it alone, not with their dear ones, because they have had to emigrate far away from their families to have a better job situation. The Christmas of so many illegal immigrants, who do not have the luxury of returning to their countries of origin, but who have no alternative but to live it alone, in a country that received them unwillingly, with the distress of being discovered and deported to their countries of origin.

There is also another Christmas, which is even more bitter, of those that spend the holidays alone because their family is broken. Or, perhaps, not altogether alone, but without their children, because their wife has demanded to have them and take them with her. Or those other uncomfortable as well as bitter Christmases where strange balances are reached to comply with the commitments of broken families: a child spends the 24th with his father, and a little while on the 25th, but the Christmas meal and dinner is with his mother or vice versa. The Christmas of broken families is particularly bitter, although the children can be visited, by dint of arrangements with lawyers.

Then there is the Christmas of those that are alone, of those that have been unable to form a home and are getting older. If it’s always weight, during the Christmas celebrations the blow of loneliness becomes harder. People have a greater awareness of their sad vital situation. On these occasions, what they want is for the feast to pass quickly, and they look for substitutes to lessen the sensation of loneliness. It’s always possible to get inebriated or, healthier, to binge on Netflix, until one’s eyes are burning. But this only hides, only postpones the tragedy of loneliness. Sooner or later, one is faced with the pillow and has no other remedy than to acknowledge that one is alone, that one has an immense void, and there is no one to fill it.

In a nutshell, there are Christmases that, by chance of fate, sadly fit with a sad event or a situation of grave illness. When one is given the fateful diagnosis a few days before the celebrations, and one knows that perhaps it’s the last time one will eat the end of the year grapes. When one’s close relative manages to pass away at Christmas or days close to it, Christmas becomes dark, unbearable.

My thought goes to those that find themselves thus. Those that, more than living, suffer Christmas. My thoughts will not help them much, perhaps my prayers are more useful, to which hopefully will be joined those of the cherished reader. In any case, I can only say to them that, in a mysterious way, their Christmas is more authentic, as the original one wasn’t comfortable: it was lived in solitude and poverty. And that the Child Jesus is closer spiritually to those that suffer, particularly those who, for whatever reason, are doomed to live a dark Christmas.

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester