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To those whose days don’t feel merry or bright. Those who pace the halls, instead of decking them. Or, to those who got decked in the halls, because they didn’t know they needed to duck.

To those whose days are lit by the bare bulb of survival, a lone light shining dimly, earnestly, but dimly because there is so much dark to illuminate; and the light of hope seems to swing from the end of a tethered rope. Swing like a fragile idea swaying.

For those who didn’t make the nice list, and to those who did, but whose present got lost anyway when Santa took a hard left somewhere over Tokyo and it fell out of the sleigh. And probably caused someone’s death, so now there’s that to deal with. And your name on the tag.

For those who longed for a white Christmas, but got palm trees.

And to those who longed for family, but got 

palm trees.

To the newly divorced, the separated, the dumped, the bereft. 

The ones who bought and hid Christmas presents on a bright spring day in May, but found themselves alone on December 1. I’m sorry you paid for a gift you can’t give; I’m sorry you have an unwanted excess.

To those who worked a delayed flight or a graveyard shift. The police officers, EMT’s and Firefighters. The doctors, nurses and orderlies; to those who do what they must do, when they must do it. I see you.

To those whose packages didn’t get delivered from Amazon, even though the payment seemed to make it just fine.


To those who can’t eat sugar cookies, because duh, gluten!

And to those who are allergic to dairy. And eggnog. And holiday cheer. Especially that.

You are not alone.

You share the company of the recently unemployed, children waiting for a new heart and displaced refugees. You walk alongside widows going through the machine like motions of celebrating, relapsed alcoholics, and the person who just lost a pet.

You participate with the childless, newly diagnosed and the homeless lady who favors Kris Kringle when she slings a black plastic trash bag over her shoulder so she can carry the weight of her world on her back.

To the mom who doesn’t have enough money to buy milk and cookies. Let alone a lego set.

Whose days are not white, but muddy.

To the tone deaf, the lost, the innocent. To those who would rather forget than remember the 25th; a day to be endured, instead of enjoyed.

Merry Christmas anyway.

Yes. Merry Christmas, even though there are no sugarplums dancing over your head, or the sinful, heady scent of rolls rising.

I like to believe, one day there will be again.

A day when joy will be your partner instead of merely dancing over you, taunting you with the sugary sweetness of unfulfilled dreams.

A day when hope bouncing like a toddler links arms with you. Pulls you onto the dance floor, helps you remember the dance steps and never laughs at you when you fall.

In truth, I am lucky.

Or maybe it’s not lucky, maybe it’s blessed? Blessed to remember how it felt to believe before despair ate away at the heart of faith. To remember the texture of happiness, magical nights when it wasn’t insomnia that kept me up; but excitement.

And that still dark morning, when an EZ bake oven was waiting like a sigh to be unwrapped.

And it was EZ. And sweet. And I baked a chocolate cake in a tiny heart shaped pan, and served everyone mouse size slices, still warm.

And here’s the thing, it’s in the remembering that we find peace again.

I have tasted the sweet decadence of joy unwrapped, but now I crave it. Which might be why its absence feels as cold as coal, as bland as sawdust, as empty as a tomb.

But, I am also lucky to know I am not the first soul pining for a thrill of hope to lift the heavy weariness of waiting. That I am not the only one to fall on her knees, longing like a child for the bright boyancy of a miracle.

And even though I know this Christmas story by heart. I am still somehow stunned as a shepherd when I remember again the miracle that already happened; centuries ago, before electricity, smartphones, Santa or EZ bake ovens.

And how even without a way to quantitatively measure or scientifically explain voltage, or watts W=(A)(V) there was light.

Radiant, incandescence, illuminating, warmth that lit the whole sky.

And so, to those who didn’t even bother to put up a tree; Be still anyway. Listen anyway.

Because the Angel who said, “Fear not” was talking to you too.

Yes. Even you, muddy, harried, un-jolly YOU are allowed to yield to glad tithings of great joy.

Because what’s happening now, has no power over what happened then.

But what happened then, holds all power over what happens now.

So even if Blitzen accidentally took out Donnar’s eye when he was shaking his antlers, causing Donnar to misjudge the landing, resulting in Santa having a heart attack on impact in your front yard. AND dying because you didn’t think to purchase a home AED device. And you couldn’t call 911 because your kids have taken every single phone charger within a 20 mile radius, so your phone was also, dead.

Yes. Even then.



Close your eyes and remember the reason Angels were singing in the first place. And the reason why maybe, just maybe, you might want to sing too.

Find to the lyrics tumbling on the roaring surf of white noise; and pull them towards you like a lifesaver.

And listen to what the words are saying while you drive and shop and bake and decorate and fret and wonder if sugar plums are a good option for emotional eating.

No. I mean really listen, and remember again, that angels are singing, because the Christ Child is born.

My nephew Simon born on Christmas Day ❤️🎄


4 Replies to “Merry Christmas Anyway”

  1. I see YOU Joanie Tidwell. Thank you for your wisdom and humor. Even in brokenness there can still be beauty! Thank you for being an Angel in my life and walking with me in this journey! You are a beautiful and joyful soul!! I love you!

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