Karen Carpenter crooned it back in the 1970s with a voice that should have lasted a lifetime but didn’t. It was cut short for all the wrong reasons.
“Merry Christmas Darling,” a yearning refrain for someone far away. I feel the musical strain, the pain of her melody.
There is a hunger that just can’t be filled with pretty packages or Christmas cookies or a cup of eggnog. It is the hollow place left gaping for someone too far away, someone missing from our celebration.
Facebook reflects family gatherings. Pictures abound. Because there’s no place like home for the holidays. Airports and highways will teem with travelers making their way to places of fond memories.
Many will gather around decorated trees and tables laden with favorite food to share laughter and stories and gifts that cannot be contained in packages. Building more memories while feasting on the food of togetherness.
Some will not.
Families are estranged on Christmas Eve just like the day before. Soldiers are stationed on the other side of the world. Money is short, time is limited and weather is uncertain so travel is made impossible this year. Bodies are broken and some minds don’t remember last year, or yesterday, or even a few minutes ago.
And some are dead and gone. Forever is a long time.
Our longings go unfulfilled. The pain of missing is real. And we are found wanting at Christmas time.
Merry Christmas, darlings. You are missed. You are cherished. You are remembered. Your sweet presence is the gift we want more than anything.
Christmas will come and go as it does every year. Sometimes, some years, we just want it to be over so we can move forward. The anticipation of it is hard. The reality is harder. The ache is real.
The hollow of our being can only be completely filled with a Presence greater than our own. The holy Presence who filled young Mary’s womb, her willing heart accepting the unknown. “I am willing to do whatever He wants,” she said.
It is hunger that can only be filled with the glory of God. He alone will be enough. Enough to fill. Enough to satisfy. Enough to sustain in the hardest of times.
Lord Jesus, come in. Fill me up full. My heart is willing. Be enough for me.