After the romance of Christmas Eve, we land with a thud squarely back in reality, and reality is kind of depressing. As Anne of Green Gables might have put it, “reality is so unromantic.” On Christmas Day, I often get hit with what I call the post-Christmas blahs. I guess I spend so long looking for Messiahs under trees that I get quite depressed when they don’t show up. The world goes on as it always has, despite the birth of the saviour. Peace on earth still seems a long way away.
But the promise of Christmas is that Jesus Christ entered into that reality, becoming fully human, and that the full reality of human nature, even in adolescence, was vital to the work he was to do. The promise of Christmas is that it returns us to reality, for it is in reality that we learn what it means to worship God and to live out our discipleship, it is in reality that we see the face of the babe who came to live and suffer and die in order to save us from violence and oppression and selfishness. It is in reality that we struggle with the forces of evil and learn to depend on the grace of God. As much as I enjoy the sweet anticipation of the Advent season, the return to reality that happens on Christmas Day is the real promise of Christmas, for as much as these mountain-top experiences of fantasy and celebration are important and healthy, it is in the valleys of everyday existence that we must really live, and it is in the valleys of everyday existence that Jesus Christ accompanies us.