A blue Christmas and City Slickers

Published 8:31 pm Monday, December 5, 2016

By Rev. Chris Surber

It’s almost cliché to say that people are suffering at the holiday season.

To say, “Remember those who are less fortunate” is a kind of passive compliance with one of our more polite social norms. Give more, smile more, laugh more, have more compassion at the holidays.


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Down the street a 90-year-old man is mourning the first Christmas without the shining bride of his youth. A loving mother is spending the first Christmas without her little boy who just went off to the serve in the Army. It’s a sad Christmas for Mom, because her long-ailing father just slipped into eternity.

These are real pains and deep sorrows that dropping seventeen cents into a red bucket can’t solve. We need a deep wisdom to find meaning at Christmas.

This is where the classic film “City Slickers” comes in. Who doesn’t love that movie? It’s a Billy Crystal classic!

My favorite scene is when Mitch, Ed, Phil and Bonnie are sitting on bedrolls discussing which is more interesting, women getting together to discuss relationships and feelings or men discussing baseball.

Ed says, “That’s easy; we win.” Bonnie laughs disbelievingly and replies, “How can you say that?” Ed says, “Because honey, if that stuff were half as interesting as baseball, they’d have cards for it and sell it with gum.”

I think they’re both right. Introspection, self-examination, feeling and thinking about how we and others feel is important. It’s a basic component to what makes us human. We care about caring. We care about our experiences. We examine our joys and pains.

On the other hand, for those who suffer, it is crucial to learn to set aside our sorrows in favor of simple activities that allow us to enter into the moment and simply enjoy what is in front of us.

When everyone else around you seems to be enjoying the holidays more than you it’s OK to stop mourning Dad while you catch the Redskins game or to lose yourself at the theater with the grandkids.

You’re not dishonoring the memory of the one you loved and lost by making new memories with the ones who love and are presently in your life. We don’t discredit the past by breathing today. The past lives in an unchanging yesterday, but we can still enjoy and effect the present and the future.

Love and sorrow are funny things. They always seem to work by multiplication.

If we allow our grief to get the better of us it will drag us down with exponential strength. If we allow our love to lift us up our strength will double and double again!

This holiday season; don’t be afraid to grieve, to cry, or to remember. But also don’t be afraid to be in the moment, to enjoy a distraction or to build new memories.

The Rev. Chris Surber is pastor at Liberty Spring Christian Church. Email him at chris@chrissurber.com.