12 Days of Christmas Anime, Day 11: Sword Art Online

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While I was looking for an anime Christmas episode to write about, a friend sarcastically reminded me about Sword Art Online episode 3 (aka The Red-Nosed Reindeer). At first it seemed like a joke, but after re-watching it, I was reminded of a Christmas I had many years ago, and I decided to discuss this episode.

If you haven’t seen this episode, please watch it before reading any more.

Christmas is a wonderful holiday, but it can quickly become a difficult one, especially when you are dealing with grief from the loss of a loved one. In episode 3, Kirito’s entire party dies and he blames himself for what happened. He goes off in search of a legendary quest that only happens at Christmas. The prize is an item that can bring someone back to life, but for Kirito, it is more of a suicide mission. He has given up on life. He runs into a friend, but no one can talk him out of his self-directed condemnation as he searches for atonement. He runs and meets the boss, a twisted Saint Nicholas. He defeats him, to find out that the item can’t atone for his failure in protecting his guild. He gives the item to his friend and tells him to save the next person who dies in front of him. He heads off. While sitting in the dark in his room, an item appears with a recording from one of the people who died, a girl he was trying to protect. She speaks to him and says that she doesn’t blame him. She says she knew she was going to die. She says she forgives him and wants him to move on. Then she sings a song. The song is Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer. He cries. Then fade to black.

If you have ever had someone close to you die, than you know that the most fun and wonderful things you did with them become overwhelmingly bitter-sweet. For the first bit, they are very hard. Over time, the pain fades slowly, but your memory of them remains. You sometimes cry when thinking about those same memories. Even if that person wasn’t with you for long, Christmas can be so very hard. Even if no one has died, the holidays can carry more pain than joy if you are far from the ones you love. It’s okay to be upset. It’s good to cry. It is great, because you know where you stand. However, don’t let your self stay there. Don’t turn the holiday’s into your own suicide mission, hoping that you don’t take it out. Take courage. Go towards the pain. Break through the pain. Crawl up into a ball on the floor and let the tears flow till sleep takes over. Wake up. Stand up. And move forward with all the strength you have. Someone needs you. Seek them out. Stand for them. Lift them up and push them forward. Feeling sorrow is good. It means your heart is alive. Staying there means you are running from it. Sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning. If you allow yourself to deal with the pain, it will propel you forward with intensity and intentionality. When the fight is hardest, it is because the fight is the most worth it. Don’t give up. You’ve got this.

This isn’t the most cheery blog post ever, but if it helps someone, than it is so worth it. Christmas isn’t always happy. How many babies died in Bethlehem over the next few years, because Jesus was born there? Just because something isn’t happy, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it in some way. We live in a constant war, so don’t give up. Don’t let it wear you down. You got this. Go be there for someone and go change someones life by being there when they need you. And have a good Christmas, even it being merry is difficult.

featured illustration by art by あしたばてんぐ | reprinted with permission

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