is Christmas Day. All around the world,
people are celebrating. Some people are
not celebrating. All I really wish for this
Christmas is that everyone who is lost or lonely or sad or angry or hungry or
thirsty or cold or ill… or is suffering in any way… will experience some
flicker of the Light that is the Christmas miracle. I don’t know why some people are so broken
and bruised and others seem to have an easier time, but I do know that no one
is completely unscathed in life. We all
need something…. And we all have something to give. And sometimes what we need
is to give.
spent a lot of time this season talking about holiday traditions and my own
somewhat kooky ho-ho-hoing. Today, I’m
going to let Christmas just be a Silent Night… and a silent morning and a
silent afternoon and a silent evening.
It is more important that you pay attention to what is in your
heart today than what is in mine.
Christmas to all! May you find peace,
love, and joy in your sacred silence.
wishes and prayers to all of you this Christmas Day! May you be blessed with faith, hope, and love
at Christmas and always. Please feel
free to leave a comment, sharing your Christmas wishes.
been having a rather rollicking holiday season.
started in mid-November when I took a quick trip to California to visit some
friends and to spend some quality time with my brother. I refer to this trip as my Christmas store
and comfort food tour of Southern California.
I spent only four full days in California. During that time, I went to two fancy
Christmas garden/decoration stores, perused (and purchased) vast quantities of
Christmas merchandise at Disney’s California Adventure, had lunch at the
favorite pizza place of my childhood, had bagels at my old bagel stomping
ground for two breakfasts, and consumed In and Out Burger fare twice. I also ate gingerbread from several different
sources during my trip. I had to compare
and contrast, didn’t I?
got home, Thanksgiving was upon us and I hosted a dinner for a family of
Florida friends. We had a great
time. For grace, I asked each person to
offer a prayer of Thanksgiving for some blessing within a specific category… friends,
family, health, spiritual gifts, etc.
The prayers were moving and true.
I think we all shared a common bond of gratitude, which was a great
foundation for a day of food, fellowship, and fun.
next day, I dragged out the Christmas decorations and changed the season from
harvest to hark-the-herald-angels.
Promptly on December 1, Max began the daily chore of hiding my
mini-elf-on-a-shelf, Kringle. I search
for him each morning. With the first
Sunday of Advent, Max and I have lit candles each evening and shared reading
couple of days later, we went on our Christmas sojourn to the Most Magical
Place on Earth. I immersed myself in
Disney Christmas magic… brilliant decorations, an over-the-top Christmas
parade, breath-taking Candlelight Processional, and mass quantities of
gingerbread. I laughed, I cried, I fell
in love…. Not an advertisement, just my very real reaction.
week, Max and I went to Celebration, a Disney-inspired town just outside the
theme park property. It is a Victorian
town built in 1996. I realize that Queen
Victoria reigned from 1837 through 1901, but Disney can do anything… including
building a town 95 years too late. At
Christmas, Celebration is special. There
are huge Christmas trees, an ice rink, a snowfield, and quaint little
shops. There is also a company that
offers horse and carriage rides. We had
a nice cozy dinner, wandered around the town, and rode around in a one-horse
week, I’m going Christmas caroling and I’m planning two more parties in the
next couple of weeks.
we will be celebrating Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with faith and
friends. Max and I have some traditions
that we share together, including church services. We provide for time with God, with each
other, and with family.
kind of a goofball, I guess. I’ve
enjoyed the schmaltz. I wouldn’t give up
any of my holiday activities. I do
admit, though, that I sometimes turn the corner off Whimsy Street onto Absurd
Avenue. Here’s the evidence:
grown woman and I search for my elf on the shelf, Kringle, every morning. Not only do I search for my little elf, I
talk to him. I have whole conversations
with him. He and I have a relationship
that may be a little unhealthy.
relieved because the two Christmas trees that are displayed all year in my
house finally make sense for a few weeks.
erect not one, but two additional Christmas trees for the season… one topped
with Tinkerbell and one topped with a bear with angel wings.
purchased light-up Disney Christmas crocs that I have been wearing steadily
since I bought them. In a rare nod to
adulthood, I did get them when I was in California where I could take advantage
of my friend’s employee discount.
I came home from the pool this morning a little chilled and decided to don some warm clothes. See below.
my case. Have a holly jolly, everyone!
Kringle sends his wishes for a merry and bright Christmas, too!
Your turn! Have I gone completely around the bend? Please tell me about any of your “whimsical” Christmas activities. Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most of us have heard the slogans “Jesus Is The Reason For The Season” and “put Christ In Christmas.” I first heard them as a child, so they have been around for quite some time. I thought they were snappy reminders that Christmas is more than Santa Claus and eight tiny reindeer. After all, Clement Moore did not invent Christmas; God did. And Christmas is just one chapter in the wonderful story of God’s love for us.
don’t want to dismiss the merry moments that we enjoy as part of our
ho-ho-holidays. Most of us cherish memories of family traditions and
secularized celebrations of Christmases past.
We also cherish the beauty and mystery of the Nativity- the unimaginable
wonder of the birth of a Savior who would bring an eternal Light to a World
suffering in darkness. We understand
that the true meaning of Christmas fills the heart with way more warmth than
the most sentimental Hallmark Christmas movie.
We understand that the true meaning of Christmas is a more miraculous
gift than the most elaborately wrapped Christmas present. We understand that the true meaning of
Christmas is about more pure Joy than the shiniest Christmas tree can provide. We know that Jesus is the reason for the season,
and we put Christ in Christmas.
still don’t want to give up my secular Christmas traditions. It is fun to decorate for Christmas. I get
giddy about hunting for my elf on the shelf.
I disregard my regrettable lack of musical talent when I go Christmas
caroling. I love dedicating some special festive time with friends and family,
allowing overwhelming waves of affection and gratitude to wash over me. I enjoy giving and receiving presents. I
willed myself into believing in Santa Claus until I was eleven years old, so it
is unlikely that I will kick him to the curb at this late date.
think we can center Christmas on Christ and still enjoy favorite secular
traditions. In fact, I think we can
enjoy those secular traditions even more by making them Christ-más (more
Christ) traditions. With a few simple
hacks, we can enrich some of our more familiar secular traditions with fortified
instance, it is easy to add the true meaning of Christmas to our holiday
decorating. There are all kinds of
beautiful Nativity decorations. Also,
some families make a Jesse tree early in Advent. A Jesse tree is named after the reference in Isaiah
11:10 which indicates that the Savior will spring from the root of Jesse. The tree is usually leafless and scraggly
looking, much like a tree in the desert battling against the harsh earthly
elements and holding on to life only by a strong root. It is decorated with ornaments that tell the
story of salvation. The ornaments may
include symbols from the Old Testament, like Joseph’s coat and Noah’s ark, as
well as ornaments depicting important events in the life of Jesus, such as the
Star of Bethlehem, the dove, and the cross.
family likes their elf-hunting or opening boxes on an Advent calendar to reveal
candies or toys, it might be a good idea to incorporate other “readiness”
activities during Advent. Some Advent calendars reveal Scripture quotes or part
of the Nativity story each day rather than candy or toys. In my case, I have an advent wreath. Each night, I light the weekly number of
candles and read a devotion. The time
leading up to Christmas is about building excitement and getting ready to
welcome our Savior. There is nothing
wrong with hunting for elves on the shelves, but why not also spend some time
exciting the soul, as well?
are many Christmas carols that focus on the birth of Jesus. I think we are sometimes a bit tentative
about those songs, as if we might offend people who are not believers. I guess it is good to be sensitive, but that
doesn’t mean we should keep our love of Christ hidden. I remember caroling one year when we visited
a house where a Jewish man lived. We
were somewhat reluctant to sing Christmas songs because he didn’t celebrate
Christmas. We went ahead and I was so
glad we did because he was so touched.
He even thanked us for generously sharing our joy and tradition with
time with family and friends at Christmas is wonderful. There are plenty of people who don’t get to
share Christmas with loved ones. We can
celebrate Christ-más by enlarging our family circle to include an
outsider. Hospitality is a gift of the
Holy Spirit and love is always meant to be given away. Giving love away to people who are not in our
immediate network of friends and family can make our Christmas more joyous and
is nothing wrong with presents, either.
I love shopping to find just the right gift for people and I enjoy the
surprise of opening a package addressed to me.
I do think it is valuable to add one more gift under the tree,
though. You can wrap up a check to your
church or organization that provides comfort to the suffering in the world and
open it on Christmas Day to remind you that being able to give to others is a
wonderful gift in itself.
there is Santa Claus. I’ve always loved
the rendition of Santa Claus kneeling, hat in hand, before the Baby Jesus. It reminds me that Jesus, not Santa, is truly
the Spirit of Christmas. This year, I
think Santa is going to bring Scripture cards to stuff in the stockings, in
addition to the ubiquitous sugar plums.
year let’s take “Keep Christ in Christmas” to the next level. Let’s infuse our secular holiday with Christ-más.
Thank you for all Your many
blessings. Help us to keep You at the
center of our Christmas celebrations and the center of our lives. The only gift we simply must have this
Christmas is Your love in our lives.
Come into our lives and share Your light with us. May we bear that Light to the world, to the
glory of Your name.
In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen
Your turn… what Christmas traditions do you observe? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at email@example.com.
think I’m going to venture into weird territory today. Get ready.
since my mother died and, most especially, since I turned 60, I’ve been looking
at life differently. In particular, I’m
looking at money differently. I’m not
sure it is healthy. I’m bringing it up
in the hope that you all can provide some perspective to keep me off the ledge.
not wealthy. There have been times in my
life when I’ve had to make choices about what bills to pay and what food to
buy, based on my financial situation. I
consider myself very lucky because I’ve always had a secure job and a paycheck
that represented a living wage. Despite
that blessing, I have never made enough money for finances to be a non-issue in
my life. The good news is that my needs
and wants are fairly modest. As a
result, my income is more than sufficient to cover my expenses without
privation. It isn’t that I can afford to
do everything. It is more that my tastes
usually fit within the confines of what I can afford. Also, from my younger years when I had
to be careful with money, I’ve learned how to defer gratification and save for
big ticket purchases. I’m very, very
grateful for my economic blessings.
though, a new sensation strikes me when I think about purchasing big ticket
items- a larger dining room set, a new driveway, a renovated bathroom, new
kitchen appliances, etc. I find myself
wondering if I will get my money’s worth from the investment before I die.
not sure why I should limit myself based on life expectancy. My mother lived almost thirty years beyond
the age that I am now. My father, who
died quite suddenly, lived past his 72nd birthday. I am in reasonably good health and don’t
engage in extreme sports. I’ve no reason
to believe that my death is imminent.
Certainly, I could get run over by a bus or suddenly contract some
fast-acting fatal disease. However,
those possibilities have existed my whole life and they never stopped me from
spending money in my younger days.
should it really matter how long I enjoy some acquisition before kicking the
bucket, if said acquisition gives me pleasure?
First, if it turns out that I don’t get a lot of bang for the buck
before the bucket kicking, I’ll be dead and won’t care. Secondly, as I get older there will be fewer
opportunities to enjoy spending money. I
have a secure income that meets my needs. I have a good medical plan. I think I’m generous to others. I have long
term care insurance. Theoretically, I
should not have to rely on the kindness of strangers (that is, the government)
to pay for my care if I need to go to assisted living or a skilled nursing
facility at some point. Third, it isn’t
like I limit myself when it comes to buying the everyday, routine, unnecessary
stuff that I purchase all the time. When
I really think about it, eight or nine trips to Penney’s or Belk’s probably
often add up to the same amount as it would cost to buy a new refrigerator.
understand that it isn’t rational to consider my life expectancy in deciding
whether or not to make a large purchase.
I get that. Obviously, I can make
an effective argument about why life expectancy should not be a factor. However, I still have this nagging doubt when
deliberating whether to make one of those major purchases. In the past year, I did get a larger dining
room set and I did get the driveway repaved.
Both were major expenditures. I
love the new dining room set and I love the new driveway. Still, every time I look at them, I get this
feeling that is almost shame-like. It
feels like I had no right to buy them because of my advanced age. Some part of
me seems to believe that, if the useful life of the purchase is going to
outlast my own useful life, I should not waste the money.
you we were going to venture into weird territory today.
do you think? Do you ever feel like you
should be considering your useful life when deciding whether to spend large
sums of money? How weird is this? How do you get past the feeling? Please leave your perspective by leaving a
comment. In the alternative, you can
email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.