I didn't always love Christmas.
It used to be the loneliest and most awful.
Once they got their licenses, my big sisters would always be off doing stuff with their friends, and I'd be stuck at home like a little kid (I was a little kid) with my brother (who I hadn't yet come to adore). And then they got boyfriends and got engaged and got married and were gorgeous and happy and grown up and amazing and I was too ugly and never had a boyfriend and was 99% sure that nobody would ever love me or want to marry me ever ever ever and I stared down the long decades of miserable Christmas solitude with bitter tears.
So okay, I was hilariously melodramatic, but it didn't feel hilarious then, you know? It felt so so so sad, and lonely, and everybody else was merry&bright and gushing about Christmas when all I wanted to do was bury myself in my room with stacks of books and jars of dill pickles ... which I did, lots. And it's pretty easy for me to make fun of sad-Janelle and dismiss her (groundless, thank you Patrick) fears now. But she taught me some really important things.
Not everyone is happy at Christmas.
Sometimes I think I almost might forget that now. We get together with friends, and yeah, everyone is telling each other to be of good cheer! it's the most wonderful time of the year! And there are lots of laughs and generous presents and kindness and goodness and - as Vava told me today - it's easy to see that the meaning of Christmas is love.
And there's no sadness in sight.
But I think there should be sadness in sight.
Did you ever walk into a room and realize that you were the only one who looked like you, so you felt uncomfortable for a few moments and then left?
Did you ever show up somewhere and realize that there was a tacit dress code that nobody had spelled out for you, so you felt uncomfortable until you could leave?
I have. When I feel out of place, I leave. Goombye, please!
Sometimes when I'm around a group of beautiful, slender, fashionable friends, silently longing to be less freckled, less enormous, and less frizzy, God whispers to my heart that maybe someone else will come along who is also big and freckly and frizzy and she will feel comfortable here because there is someone else who looks like her.
And so if you are struggling with the Merry&Bright part of Christmas this year, will you remember sad-Janelle and just be yourself? Just go to that Christmas thing you're dreading and cry if you need to. Or make wry comments to yourself in the corner. Or high-tail it to the kitchen and find a jar of dill-pickles.
Because maybe there's someone else who wants to join in but can't because there's no one who looks like them. Nobody else with that broken heart, that ache, that loneliness. Nobody else who isn't feeling particularly Christmasy.
I'm willing to bet there are a lot of people who will be blessed by your authenticity, who will laugh at your sarcastic jokes or cry with you in the cubby under the stairs.
And everyone who loves you will be glad to have sad-you around.
Even if you're too ugly and have never had a boyfriend and are 99% certain nobody will ever want to marry you ever ever ever.