Discovering the Real Value in Christmas

 

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Christmas always left me feeling sad and empty when I was a little girl.

After all, the presents had been opened, and the wrapping paper was in the garbage, the whole idea of Christmas always seemed to be a waste – at least – to me it was. It was a race against time to get all those presents, and then a few hours later it was done. I wondered what the point of all of the gifts was. I was focused on a tree strung with bright sparkling lights, a man in a red suit who travelled with reindeer flying all over the world to give out gifts.

Forget the actual day of Christmas, the magic of Christmas Eve struck a chord in my young heart because I knew whatever was happening was special. Everyone leaves work early to go home and be with their families and close friends. Part of the problem I think was, I didn’t even know that we were celebrating and remembering a baby being born.

It’s a few days after Christmas, and it is still about hope, and though the majority of us have already been out to pick up a bargain from the leftover sales from Christmas, we make-up excuses for more stuff. Just another day to spend time buying stuff. And the question is: do you even need it?

Everything and nothing leads us to pause about what has gone wrong, except we don’t know what it’s all about. It’s a season of where paradoxes’ emerge. It’s a time to be wowed by the hope given to us by a baby born in a barn – in a complete lack of luxury, the complete opposite of what most people think of when they speak of Christmas. This is a time when it’s easy to overeat, over-shop, just plain over the top consumption! Another chance to fill the emptiness inside of their souls, but sometimes you need to empty yourself to feel the poverty of the situation.

It refuses to be extinguished

A small flame of hope lingers hidden underneath anger, shame, depression, and anxiety, etc., with all the gems that are the sum of our desires. Christmas doesn’t seem to be enough but it is, with the simple gift of hope in a birth of a baby in a manger. The problem is most of us equal Christmas with more stuff, more doing than waiting as we are called to do so during the season of Advent. Taking time to enjoy the Christmas lights on front porches, for example, this can help remind us of the hope that is in the waiting. Instead of holding onto negative emotions, make an effort to seek out the good that Christmas does offer, and even the opportunities that are given to us the time in between Christmas and New Years. For myself, I have found I need fewer activities and more time reflecting to appreciate what is going on.

The time between Christmas and New Year’s Eve is usually a chaotic time for me. It’s hard to put into words how I feel in this time of undetermined celebrating. It’s mostly an emotional and spiritual battle, but this year, I decided I was going to do something more concrete. I started with Advent:

  • This year I made the plan not to go into a mall once December came, I didn’t want to see the busyness when it should be a time of waiting, not rushing around. I start my Christmas shopping in March/April so that around November I can tie up loose ends.
  • I bought a devotional from Magnificat specifically for the season of Advent. I don’t normally read devotionals, but I figured reading something about Advent might help.
  • During Advent, there were times that I felt little reminders of joy and hope. I let the Lord fill me with these emotions, and they led me to anticipate(joy) the coming of His arrival.
  • I make a point each year to work 2-3 days to help with confusion of days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve

 

I hope you all had a safe and happy Christmas and all the best for coming year of 2017!

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