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Why the Christmas Story Makes Me Feel Less Anxious

December 25, 2019 TJ DeSalvo

The Christmas story helps me deal with holiday anxiety. So many people find this time of year supremely stressful when it really should be the exact opposite. Because there is no better time than now to revisit the topic of holiday anxiety, I want to go into a little more detail about how I use the Christmas story to frame this time of year in terms of calm, not anxiety.

The Myth of the Christmas Story

In the interest of full disclosure, despite the fact that my family and I celebrate Christmas, we are not very religious, and I personally do not consider myself a member of any organized faith. Despite this, I’ve always been fascinated by religion for a number of reasons, among the most prominent being how people use myths to try and make sense of their lives and the world around them.

That’s why, despite not being a member of the faith, I can get something out of the Christmas story. I don’t have to look at it as some sort of historical record – I see it as a story, one that’s trying to convey a beautiful view of the world, a view that doesn’t require membership into the faith to appreciate.

The Message of the Christmas Story

Obviously, I don’t have time to go into every facet of the Christmas story, so I’ll stick with one big idea: the story makes me less anxious because it so powerfully puts forth the idea that radical change can come from the least expected places, at the least expected times.

By virtue of his familial ties, Jesus was an unremarkable figure. He was a no-name son of a carpenter, which was considered a lower-class occupation. Yet in spite of that, he was consigned by a higher power to be the savior of his people. The fact that someone could be born into such low a station, yet destined for such greatness, should make us all feel a sense of calm. Even if we aren’t born to be saviors, our destiny does not have to be dictated by our birth.

As a parallel to that point, the story retains a focus and sympathy on the lower class and the downtrodden throughout its runtime. Mary and Joseph’s occupation was mentioned previously, but let us not forget the only reason why Jesus was born in the manger is that there was literally no room for them at the inn. Their apartness is literally mapped onto the geography of Bethlehem.

And yet, this does not diminish the regality of their spirit. The wise men visited them because they recognized that regality – not in spite of the lowness of their station, but because of it. When the angels announce the coming of Jesus, they do not seek out Herod, but a group of shepherds, among the lowest on the social totem pole.

All this to say: mental illness can make anyone feel like they’re nothing. But just because you feel like nothing, doesn’t mean you are nothing. As the Christmas story makes clear, what is greatest in the world can be found in the least of places. One’s importance, one’s self-worth, cannot always be gleaned purely by outward appearances. It is often so hard to remember this, in our cynical age. But at Christmas, of all times, is when we should remember it most. This is why Christmas does not cause me anxiety, because fundamentally, the Christmas story reminds me of that fact.

APA Reference
DeSalvo, T. (2019, December 25). Why the Christmas Story Makes Me Feel Less Anxious, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 28 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2019/12/why-the-christmas-story-makes-me-feel-less-anxious



Author: TJ DeSalvo

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