Christmas: The best kind of reset

Sometimes, when all else fails, you simply have to pull the plug

Brownwood Bulletin
Gene Deason

Bulletin editor emeritus Gene Deason penned this Christmas message that would be appropriate for any year — and especially this year. 

It’s been something like 25 years since I was introduced to a concept known as desktop publishing at this newspaper, and the memories of that revolutionary experience remain vivid.

Reporters were being allowed to do much more than simply write their stories on a typewriter. With the dawn of rudimentary page design programs, reporters could write, edit, and flow their stories as they designed pages on templates. If you’ve ever produced a church or club newsletter, you were doing what only “pros” could do a couple of decades ago.

We know that whenever computers are involved, something is eventually going to get scrambled with all those bits and bytes flying around inside there. To avoid a time-consuming call to the help desk, we learned to troubleshoot for ourselves. When the usual steps failed, we tried keyboard commands that forced a “reset.” When that failed, we found the electrical outlet, pulled the power cord, waited 10 seconds, and plugged it back in. In many situations, that was all it took.

So it is with life. When things become difficult, we work for the weekend — two days when we can retreat and reset. Periodically, vacations of a week or more will be required. It’s how people restore themselves, a way to metaphorically pull the plug and hope for better circumstances after plugging back in.

With the realization that I can number more Christmas mornings behind me than I have ahead, I’ve determined that Christmas is the best kind of “reset.” This rings true in any year — but especially so in this one. The imagery of a babe lying in a manger matches up well with this analogy, because what better image of renewed life is there than a newborn baby? Even greater, this celebration centers on a baby born to bring eternal life to all who believe.

After the challenges that the year 2020 have brought most of us — not only in the United States but also the rest of the world — we desperately need to hit the reset button, if not pull the plug. With the promise of a vaccine for COVID-19 already being realized, Christmas Day can be the beginning of a genuine renewal.

Even the most fortunate people among us have lost much in 2020. Some have lost loved ones and friends to death as a result of COVID-19. Some suffered serious illness, but managed to recover, yet are left with fears that after-effects will linger with them for years to come. Some have lost their businesses — everything they’ve worked for — due to shutdowns or reduced operations. Some have lost jobs because their bosses could not continue to meet payrolls amid reduced sales. Some have suffered emotionally because of restrictions on visitation and travel. Some, especially those in the health care field, have endured fatigue and burnout due to long hours tending to patients, not to mention the unimaginable suffering and death they’ve witnessed.

It won’t be easy to set that sorrow aside for even a day, but that is what Christmas beckons us to do. Even with everything we’ve lost, it’s a day when Christians — and perhaps others regardless of their faith, or lack of it — can reflect on the important things we still have. Because many traditional activities we enjoy each December had to be cancelled or conducted remotely, we’ve been granted a slower pace this season with time to ponder the religious meaning of this day. The promises of Christmas are gifts without measure, and they are presents we can open anew — this and every morning.

The hustle and bustle of traditional Christmas celebrations, along with so many other aspects of our lives, may have been subdued this year since the COVID-19 pandemic began. It’s time to hit “reset,” perhaps even to “pull the plug” on all that, and then focus on restoring our “operating systems.”

May your Christmas Day be a time of renewal, and your new year be filled with Christ’s restorative love.

  Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column “TGIF” appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at tgifcolumn@yahoo.com.