"Christmas would soon be at our throats" lamented PG Wodehouse in one of his Jeeves novels. Or as I once read in a friend honest but cynical e-mail: "Ugh. Christmas is coming. Time to get shopping."
The run-up before Christmas can indeed be a challenging time. Anxieties about finding and affording appropriate presents, the rush of decorating and card-sending, and the whirlwind of obligatory holiday parties can put people in a foul mood. The prospect of gathering with certain relatives and the journey to meet them can also add to the stress. Those without family to visit may struggle with depression. Long dark nights and short cold days can leave us feeling blue, a condition sometimes known as SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder. And, depending on the state of the economy, we may find ourselves worried about our pocketbooks and our jobs.
Jesus’ knows that we can lose our way and lose our focus when we’re feeling tired, stressed, and down. That’s why, in today’s gospel, he invites us to learn from him, so we can find refreshment and rest- especially at this time of year. His teaching, or what he calls his "yoke," helps us to put everything we’re dealing with into perspective. The consolation of this truth gives us courage and hope, and reminds us of who we are and what Christmas, and all of life, is all about.
In other words, Christmas doesn’t need to be at out throats…as long as we place the Christ’s yoke on our shoulders.