So I've found it very difficult to keep up with this blog in the past few months. I suppose that it has something to do with the fact that I am in my last year of college, but I think there may be more to it than the usual excuse of academic obligations. In any case, I want to share a few thoughts about Christmas before I go into blog hibernation once again.
Throughout middle school and high school, I struggled to enjoy Christmas the way that everyone around me seemed to. After a few consecutive Christmases working to buy just the right gift for everyone, baking every cookie I could manage, and trying to attend every party, I realized that nothing I was doing was helping to make the holiday itself special and meaningful to me. I began to reflect on what always made Christmastime special to me. Surprisingly, I found that it had nothing to do with the gifts I received, the decorations that I used, the food I ate, or the parties I attended. What makes Christmas special to me is the time that I spend with my family and the closeness I feel to God when I devote myself to a holiday of love and compassion.
A year ago, I made the conscious decision to forgo the commercialism of Christmas. I no longer give gifts outside of my immediate family, and the few gifts that I give are homemade. Although the rest of my family and my friends buy their cards and gifts, I feel that I give more of myself when the gift I give is handmade. This may seem too simple and somewhat shallow, but it is amazing how it has changed my outlook on Christmas.
Think of how much time can be devoted to family and reflection on the meaning of the holiday when one is not spending hours and hours in the crowded mall! While it is sometimes nice to go out in the evening, especially to see stores decorated for the season, too much stimulation can be distracting & often destructive. Seeing all the lovely things in stores can be tempting, and when we concentrate on our own desires we forget the needs of others. We put too much emphasis on the giving and receiving of gifts in this society, and it would do us good to remember that the true gift in our lives is that of the life of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace, Emmanuel.
Without expectations of gifts, with extra time for reflection and prayer, and without all the extra "trimmings" of a secular Christmas, it becomes a simple and beautiful holiday to remember the birth of our Lord and Savior.
One of my favorite inspirational websites is Beliefnet.com, which gives quite a few other ideas on how to keep "Christ" in "Christmas". http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/Christmas/21-Ways-to-Keep-Christ-in-Christmas.aspx
I hope that Christmas is a blessed holiday for all!
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