So today, on this typical Texas winter (very unlike actual winter) day after Christmas, I set out to soak up the mid-70s by raking up the wreckage of Spring draped heavily on our struggling yard. I actually enjoy that annual rake, and this year it’s helping me deal with the gloominess of the Holiday In-Between.
That’s actually a thing, I’ve decided. The Holiday In-Between – that week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
For my whole existence, I’ve carried a kind of subconscious melancholy during those days for some reason. I was sharing that with my husband this morning, and he said something like, “Really? Huh?” which is a nicer way of saying, “I love you, but you’re kind of weird.”
I’ll own that.
You see, all while growing up, I would put up a tiny, wilted plastic tree in my bedroom early in every Christmas season. I even had a whole box of my OWN ornaments that were only to be used on that pitiful tiny tree. I was all about some Christmas! But once December 26th hit, the tree came down. Immediately. For some reason, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was just time to move on. As in, a brush-off-your-hands, “Well that’s done. What’s next?” sort of feeling. Now, of course, we keep the tree up much longer in our house, and, sure enough, inescapably, the day after Christmas sets that strange limbo in motion in my heart.
I cannot seem to escape it. I can’t even really describe it. It’s definitely a sadness . . . well, sort of.
It’s like, from the day after Thanksgiving, all the world is riding this glittery, tinsel-strewn wave into December 25th, a great crescendo of shopping and wrapping and singing and baking and decorating and giving and getting and joy to the world. A Yuletide explosion of celebration! And then we crash.
And way on the other side of The In-Between, lies a shiny New Year’s Day, which pretty much everyone agrees is the universal signal for a ceremonial do-over; a crisp, white blank sheet of paper, resolutions and new beginnings and excitement of getting up to brush ourselves off and try this thing again. Head high, we march on, ready and determined. On mission, y’all!
So I guess I just don’t know how to feel right now or how to spend the days In-Between. I’m serious, until the New Year dawns (God willing), I will carry an underlying stress, an angst. It really is weird. And, just like every year, I will try to talk myself out of it and cover it up with doing and being, but it will still rest its wet blanket on my soul for those few days.
This is the first year I’m really trying to understand why. God is mysterious, and the way He programs each of us is mysterious. I’m pretty sure that not everyone feels this way (judging from the husband’s response), so what’s up? What could this signal, and can it (or should it) be fixed?
I’ve got my figurative pen in hand, and I’m trying to sketch out some parallels to eternal truth. Here’s what I’ve got: Could this dreary cloud just be a reminder of the greater limbo we live in – the “already and not yet” of God’s Kingdom? Seems to fit, maybe. We super cool modern folk exist in the in-between of the culmination of God’s great redemptive plan: post-Messiah, but pre-All Things New Eternity.
It’s limbo. And there really is an ache, isn’t there? And that eternal ache rears its head in the simplest, but most profound of ways.
This Holiday In-Between business is small potatoes compared to the great Story, but maybe it’s a tiny echo of the real longing in the hearts of man. I’m not sure, but I’ll hold on to that possibility during the next few days. And, while I’m at it, it’s probably a good idea to pray for joy and meaning and mission while trudging through this and all the other In-Betweens throughout our time.
You know, I really do believe that, if we search for them, we can hear those echoes of eternity lacing their way through our daily grind. If we listen, if we measure them by the Word and seek for them, I just know we’ll hear some holy whispers bouncing off those mountains, the ones that don’t seem to be moving just yet.
In the In-Betweens, let’s listen.
And maybe rake some leaves. It’s good therapy.