It is that time of year again, time for jolly fat men to bring children loads of toys they don’t really need, adults confectionery riches to increase our own bellies and a plethora of festivals and lights to bring the spirit of the “holiday” into every ones life. Or is it to just make us think we’re in the holiday spirit?
I’ve been struggling with the season this year. I typically have my tree and lights up the day after Thanksgiving and I get my presents bought and wrapped before mid-December. The twinkling lights and the happiness of people all around me help to bring all my joy to the surface. In the past, it has always seemed that this time of year brought families together and people you didn’t even know were nice and had that “holiday spirit”. For me, this year, it just isn’t the case.
The few times we’ve been out shopping most of the people seem worn out, tired, stressed beyond their limits and the spirit isn’t there. I see sadness in their eyes. The economy and job situation in this country, I’m sure, is not making the times easier. As a society we’re told to ‘spend’ and ‘buy’ and ‘overexceed’ this time of year – no matter the cost. People keep doing it to keep up with the facade, but how long until the twinkle truly begins to fade? For me, it’s been now. It took me over a week to put the decorations on my tree. I was not enthused about it at all. My stairwell shines and glimmers with lights and festive ornaments, but it seems all lackluster to me.
We even traveled to Wellsboro this weekend for their “Dickens Festival” to try and conjure up nostalgic feelings of Christmas long past. We excitedly made our way to revel in the festivities of kettle corn making, of buying handmade gifts and trinkets and to marvel at the period costumes. But the pushy crowds and the bitter cold seeped deeper into my soul than the lights and decorations, which could not find their way to my heart.
Adding to my stress this year has been some family strife. Without family and the support of those you love – what is the point? What do all the lights, dinners, eating, presents and merry-making amount to without loved ones sharing the love? Putting past hurts behind them and moving forward in the true spirit of Christmas – Love.
We’ve been celebrating Advent in church and awaiting the birth of our Lord. It brings into perspective that which so much of our commercial world has forgotten. Even Charlie Brown’s friend Linus knew the true meaning of Christmas – back when cartoons could still have the real message within their thirty minute special – and shared it with the world. We should do the same. When faced with angry shoppers – hold the door for them, let them have the parking space, pay for their lunch even. When shopping in the mall – give the cashiers a smile or make them laugh. When family has strife – find a way to show your love even if one half doesn’t want to hear it.
Christmas is about love. “For God so loved the world, He gave His only Son” – Not “For God gave each of us some cool, electronic gifts to show His love.” He gave HIS SON. For poor, pathetic, sinful, completely ungrateful us. What can we learn? When all the lights are done and put away and all the gifts unwrapped and the charm has lost its luster…. God and His son will still be in our hearts to share the spirit all year long, but we have to be willing to listen to His call. Why not start now? What can we do now to spread Christmas cheer and the true meaning?
Keep thinking…. I will too and I’ll be back with my next blog with some ideas!