The Reason for the Season

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Ah Christmas. The most magical time of year. But is it good or bad magic? Racing around to hundreds of parties, shopping for presents for everyone and their mother, making Christmas cards and dinners, and mailing piles of stuff…all while the rest of the world is racing around too. Traffic is awful and stores are as busy on a weekday in the middle of the day as a Saturday afternoon. No place is safe. Black Friday (or Thursday) kicks off the festivities with a mad rush to grab up stuff and take out anyone who gets in your way. So we Christians have to fight to keep all the craziness from overshadowing the “reason for the season”. But I have to be honest, the focus still seems to be all wrong. We are still focusing outwardly. I have seen hundreds of little blurbs lecturing people about saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas, warning people not to have Santa as part of the celebration because surely your kids will confuse him and Jesus, chiding people (and Christian radio stations) for listening (or playing) Christmas music that doesn’t have Jesus in it.
So confession here: it does not bother me when stores use the term Happy Holidays. They are servicing people who celebrate many different holidays this time of year so the term is appropriate. I say Merry Christmas as that is what I celebrate. Also, I love Santa. When I was little, we had presents from Santa and stockings. My mom explained who he was and he was a pretty cool guy. I never confused him with Jesus. One was a nice guy who wanted to do nice things…a good role model. The other was God on Earth who sacrificed his life and endured separation from His father so that we wouldn’t have to. They’re on totally different playing fields. It’s like saying people will grt Gandalph confused with Merry or Pippin. There is no comparison. I LOVE all Christmas music. Jingle Bell Rock, Jingle Bells, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer as well as all the amazing and deep carols.
You know what is harder that telling others to fix these superficial things? Actually trying to make Christmas a deep and meaningful time for myself and my family. To not get caught up in the busyness and greed. To not overbook myself doing good deeds. There are soooooo many opportunities to do good (which is awesome) but makes it easy to become overwhelmed (which is not so awesome). I seem to fail every year. Instead of running around, to actually spend time with my kids. Not ignoring them as I wrap presents, clean for a party, or even cook meals for the needy family next door. Taking time every day to spend with God and ask Him what He wants me to do, what my priorities should be this year. There are so many amazing ideas I’ve heard over the years of what families do to help keep their focus on the right thing. But none of those families did them all. They chose one that really resonated with them and stuck with it. I’m still trying to find that thing that works with our family. Each year we seem to get closer. Each year I actually take notes so I don’t make the same mistakes I did the year before, Slowly, our Christmas is starting to turn into something much more meaningful. What have I learned the most? In order for Christmas to have true meaning in my life and my family’s life….I have to be meaningful in how I approach it. So instead of being reactive, I’m being proactive and hopefully by the time my kids are old enough to really remember these moments these moments will be peaceful, deep, and remind them who and what we are really celebrating…but still be lighthearted and fun.

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