In recent years, philosophers, psychologists, and theologians have done just that, deepening our understanding of happiness in the process. It's too simple to equate happiness with a pleasurable life, these experts say; understanding happiness in that way is too narrow and limited. Instead, happiness is best defined as the good or meaningful life. That kind of life is never far removed from the harsher realities of life, simply because no life is. But that doesn't mean that a life marked with sadness can't, despite all that, still be meaningful and good. And so, even complex lives can be appropriately called "happy" -- these lives include laughter, yes, but also tears, screams, and groans.
Though Blue Christmas celebrations mean well, they don't help us integrate the real sorrow we feel with the real joy of the holidays because they end up separating the two altogether, placing them in completely different categories. That keeps us from dealing with the reality that sorrow and joy live together, in complicated ways, always. The proof is found in Matthew's account of Jesus' joyous birth alongside Herod's murderous rage; it's equally evident from our own wonderful, sorrow-filled lives, not to mention from our complex, fractured planet.
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