Judging by the music in the malls and the decorations that line the streets I would say that Christmas is near. OK, that really isn’t a good way to judge the time of year because the decorations have been up and the Christmas music has been playing since sometime early in September. However, the temperature and, more importantly, the calendar, tell me that Christmas is near. Maybe I ought to start my shopping this week. Awe, what is the rush, I still have five days.
Honestly, I haven’t even really had time to think about Christmas or even enjoy the season. It seems like every year the hustle and bustle of the season gets to be more and more, drowning out what are the best and simplest joys of the season. We all have commitments and obligations that spring up this time of the year and distract us from the real meaning of Christmas.
My wish for you in the next few days is to put aside the rush of the season and take a few moments to relax and reflect on what Christmas really means. One of my favorite things to do this holiday season is to plug the lights in on the Christmas tree, turn off the lights and the TV and sit in the quiet. It gives me a chance to clear my mind and focus on what really matters.
Maybe it is a side effect of getting older, but the highlights of Christmas are far different now than they used to be. Christmas is a time of renewal and anticipation, it’s not about presents, lights and noise. Christmas is the joy of Christ’s birth and the promise of a new life. I often think about the shepherds (I guess they are the group from the nativity that I identify with the best) and wonder what that experience was like for them. The faith and courage it took to seek out the stable is beyond my comprehension.
Christmas is also a time we spend with family and friends. This year more than any other I am looking forward to Christmas being a time with family. I suppose Ike being in college and coming home for the break might have something to do with that and I suspect as the years go on it will be even more of a highlight. I hope that you will not allow the preparations for those family events and homecomings get in the way of enjoying time together.
Another thing I have noticed is the greetings as Christmas gets closer and closer. People seem to be happier this time of the year and more often than not we wish each other a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year as we part ways. Did you ever wonder why we are more likely to wish people well this time of the year as opposed to other times? I think we might all be better off if we greeted and departed with the same attitude year-round that we do at Christmas time.
I want to share my Christmas wishes for each of you. They are simple but if we each find time for them I think it will lead for a much better and more meaningful Christmas.
My wish for each of you with these last few days of Christmas is to find that time to unplug, find that quiet place and reflect for just a moment. It might be in your easy chair in front of the tree, maybe with Christmas music, a hot cup of coffee and a cookie (that is the method I recommend) but take just a few moments and let the season soak in.
When you are with family and friends allow yourself to be there and enjoy the time together. Don’t let your mind get cluttered with the things you need to do, the obligations you may have or any other distraction. You can let your mind stew over those things later, but for right now focus on the people around you. For a little while let your worries and stress go.
Finally, I hope you find time to spend focused on what Christmas is truly about. I know Christmas Eve services and the services during Advent are some of the most meaningful for me. My favorite part of Christmas is a darkened church, lighted only with candles as Silent Night is sung. That is when I truly feel the Christmas spirit.
I hope that during these final days of Christmas you find time to unburden from the daily grind of life, and take time to remember why we celebrate Christmas. My wish for you is to be able to spend time with the people most important in your life and truly focus on that time together. Most of all I wish each and every one of you a Merry and Blessed Christmas.