The Christmas Holiday Season is Upon Us

Okay, I’m going to share a bit of my views about the holiday season in this post. I need to begin by saying that I think people, in general, go overboard during this time of year. They stress themselves out by trying to find that special someone that perfect gift. Or they are rushing around to various functions just to keep up appearances. They overdose on holiday music played everywhere. And they wind up burned out and never get to fully appreciated what this time of year is all about.

Christmas, in my eyes, is the birth of Jesus. God’s perfect gift to humanity, wrapped in flesh, and given without asking for anything in return. To me, it is the greatest gift ever given. As we bedeck our homes, inside and out, with multi-colored lights and trees, inflatable Santas and reindeer, and covet precious handmade ornaments made by our children, we tend to overemphasis the trivial and forget about the true meaning. The light in children’s eyes, the wonder and the joy that glimmers within. Spending time with loved ones. Just sitting around a toasty fire, sipping on cider, eggnog, or a hot chocolate and sharing fond memories of Christmas’s past, gives one pause.

And we are not to forget those who are struggling this time of year. Those who have recently lost a loved one, or are hurting financially, or have gone through some sort of traumatic event. We need to let them know that they have not been forgotten and that you are there for them with a willing shoulder to cry on. Not everyone sees this time of year as festive and merry. This time of year can fill many with a sense of dread and depression. Let us lift those hurting ones up and help them through this season.

It’s not about what you’re getting for Christmas, or how many brightly wrapped packages are yours underneath the Christmas Tree. As a child I used to crawl around under our tree and discover how many had my name on the gift tag. Yes, it is exciting for children to receive requested toys. I understand that. But there comes a time when we need to explain to our children that the meaning of Christmas is more than what they receive, but what they get out of this time of year, surrounded by loving family, making their own fond memories to embrace in the future.

Happy Holidays

Well here it is, another Christmas is soon upon us. This year it will definitely be harder to celebrate due to my father-in-law’s death in July.  We would spend it with him and now it will just be the four of us here.  It will be sad as there will be one less setting at the table. But then again, with everything that has been happening lately, there are many households around the nation that will be feeling the same sorrow.  But that is not what I want to write about. There is enough heartache to go around lately.  I want to bring some holiday cheer, or at least try.

This is the festive time of year to enjoy time with loved ones.  It should not be about finding the ‘perfect’ gift because, let’s face it, there is no such thing.  Instead of making yourself anxious by fighting the crowds in the stores, the obnoxious snarls of traffic on the road, and the constant exhausting running around trying to do everything, just take some time to s-l-o-w down.  Please.  For the good of your family and for the good (and sanity) of yourself.

We don’t exchange gifts in my house any longer, and as a family we are good with that.  It might sound clichéd but I am happier just to spend time with my family, loving them and seeing their smiles and hearing their laughter.  I revel in it.  Life is so precious and, sadly many times, painfully short. Love those family members who are around you.  Stop focusing on what you are getting and instead do some giving:  of your time.

Some family members you only see around the holidays.  For some families it’s a time of warmth and blessing, and for others a living hell.  I can’t even begin to understand how some families can’t seem to get along, but I know that it happens. That’s so sad.  To struggle with forgiveness at this time of year must be incredibly hard to bear.  I pray that these families can find the strength to reconcile, to finally have peace in their lives and in their homes.

So come on, blast those old favorite Christmas carols, and belt them out as loud as you can.  My favorite has always been Nat King Cole.  He had a spectacular voice.  So calming, I think.  Have some eggnog, sans the rum if driving, please.  Be safe out there, dear friends.  Go to Christmas Eve service if you so choose.  Gather with other who worship the way that you do.  Always more awe-inspiring to share those precious times with like-minded people.  Exchange gifts.  Be thankful for each one,  even if it’s not the ‘perfect’ gift that you were expecting.  Have a wonderful hearty meal and save room for dessert.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, whichever you prefer.  God bless you and protect you during this season.  May your hearts be light.  May your wishes and dreams all come true.  May love surround you and wrap you snugly.  May peace reign.  And,  if you are needing to or needing it, may forgiveness be given or found this precious season.

The Materialism of the Holiday Season

It drives me crazy, all the materialism that goes on this time of year.  On Thanksgiving evening we drove by one of the big stores out here and saw a long line of people waiting out in the cold to save a place their place in line.  There were even tents out there.  It was nuts.  I thought, Why aren’t you home with your families?  It’s just stuff.  We are accumulating more and more stuff.

It’s sad.  I believe that people are trying to fill a void in their lives by purchasing material items.  It gives them pleasure for a short while and then they are left feeling empty again.  And then it’s on to the next ‘new’ thing.  And they’re hoping that perhaps this too will feel the emptiness inside themselves.

My husband and I did a two-hour bell ringing for the Salvation Army this past weekend.  It was rewarding emotionally and spiritually, seeing these people give.  And to me it does not matter how much you give, but as long as it is giving from the heart.  That’s what counts.  Where’s your heart?  Is it in accumulating more stuff or is it in helping alleviate the suffering of others? 

Especially during this time of year when so many more people freely open the wallet to help others in need.  This time though there are a lot more people in need because of the lousy economy.  People losing jobs; losing homes.  How difficult and painful it must be for a parent at Christmas to hear their child beg for a present and know that it is either that gift or something to eat. 

I guess my point is that we can all do something to help make a difference.  Life is difficult and coming up on the holidays doesn’t make it any easier, especially for those who are struggling financially on a daily basis.  No wonder the holidays are depressing for so many of us.  You fret about purchasing just the right gift.  About throwing the party.  About those credit card bills coming in in January.  Enough to give a person a full-blown anxiety attack!  So this year, don’t worry about buying stuff just to fill the emptiness of your soul, give.  Give to the food pantry, give to the homeless and women’s shelters.  Give from the heart.  And remember, never give up.