Many Christmas playlists feature a song by Elvis Presley entitled “Blue Christmas”. It was written by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson and recorded in 1957 by Elvis in Hollywood, California for Elvis’ Christmas Album. If you’ve ever heard the song, perhaps you wondered how the folksy rhythm and blues tune became a hit considering the unique soprano woo-ee-oo background vocals lilting above the main lyrics. Ironically, Elvis did not originally want to record the song, yet it went on to become a number one hit on the Billboard U.S. Christmas Singles chart and number 12 on the Billboard Top 100 Holiday Songs compilation.
The popularity of Blue Christmas is also surprising due to the theme of the song. Unlike other staples on the Christmas playlist, it does not highlight the miracle of Christ’s birth, it does not celebrate the festivity of the season, it is not a fun, upbeat or happy tune. It’s a story of unrequited love…of heartbreak, longing and loss of a loved one.
Perhaps it’s a good reminder for us that not everyone enjoys the fireside image of a family gathered around the Christmas tree with eyes full of wonder and hearts full of joy. Some of our neighbours and friends will be facing a Christmas this year without their loved ones beside them either from miles of distance separating them, or from the loss of a loved one through death or divorce.
During the holidays, we often agonise about getting the “perfect” gift. Perhaps you have found yourself hustling from store to store frantically searching for something special or saving – carefully setting aside a special sum so you could surprise someone special. Looking back and pondering sweet moments of celebration with loved ones during the holidays, it’s often hard to actually remember the gifts. Once in a while, a particular gift stands out, especially if it was something personal. Often, the best part of the memory is simply being with the ones you love. Suffering the loss of a loved one is difficult, but it also gives us a chance to cherish those memories and celebrate their lives.
The holiday season is a great opportunity to share the love of Christ and the hospitality of our homes with friends and neighbours that may be alone. It’s also a great time to remember that our God is acquainted with grief. He knows what it means to suffer. In our loneliness and sorrow, He hears. He sees. Psalm 46.1 reminds us that He is “…our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”.
Jesus did not walk the earth as a man who enjoyed luxurious creature comforts. He was not popular with the in-crowd. He lived a demanding and harsh life. When a scribe came to Him and proclaimed his desire to follow Him, Jesus responded, “…foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8.19-20).
When we suffer, we can be sure the God is our comforter. When we see our friends, neighbours or co-workers suffering, we can encourage them that they are not alone. We can share our lives and our homes with them, and remind them that God loves them with an everlasting love. Human relationships are temporal and can be fleeting, but God is eternal. He is faithful in all circumstances and situations. In Hebrews 13, He promises never to leave or forsake us. In a season where you or someone you know may be having a blue Christmas – while everyone else seems to be celebrating – it’s a comfort to know that God is always present and His love for us never fails.
Written by Diane Prier for Saar Fellowship