In thinking about what I wanted to post for Christmas, I decided to read what I posted last year. Amazingly, what I wrote 12 months ago is equally relevant a year later, so I decided to post it here again...
With rain and spring-like temperatures, it hasn't looked a lot like Christmas this year. In fact, I haven't encountered a single family member or friend who admitted to being "in the Christmas spirit" this year. I wonder why that is.Perhaps its the ever-increasing commercialization (and attending stress) of the Holiday Season. I remember seeing Christmas decorations this year before Thanksgiving. Retailers seem to be dragging out prime shopping time for as long as possible. Perhaps its the incessant news stories about the ridiculous bickering that's going on in schools, airports, malls and town halls around the country. Apparently it's no longer politically correct to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. After all, someone might be offended. Or perhaps as our children grow up, family squabbles escalate and relationships fade, there are fewer "loved ones" to share this special season with.Whatever the reason, it's been a difficult holiday season for many people. Perhaps that includes you... If not, consider yourself doubly blessed. Whether Christmas is turning out to be all you hoped for or not, it's important not to lose sight of the real reason we celebrate this special time. No matter how many gifts are or aren't under our trees this year, whether we even have a tree at all, we have all received a very special gift, God's unconditional love as expressed through His son Jesus. We all have a reason to celebrate - we have hope, we have forgiveness, we have redemption.It's easy to get caught up in all of the wordly symbols of the holiday season, to compare the "success" of our circumstances to others, and for some of us, to become depressed by the perceived gap between how we spent this Christmas and how we'd hoped to. What's not as easy is to remind ourselves that no matter how alone or depressed or out of sorts we may feel, there is so much to be thankful for.One of the most effective ways I've found for kicking that "poor me" feeling is to lose myself in service to others. Somehow, doing something for someone else always reminds me that even if I'm feeling helpless to make a difference in my own life at that moment, that I can make a difference in the life of someone else.
Last year I knit several scarves for a wonderful Bible College student to give as Christmas gifts since I knew she didn't have a lot of money to spend on presents at the time. I did a bit of Christmas knitting this year, but not as much as in years past. This year I decided instead to donate time to local charities. I coordinated the adoption of over 100 angels as part of the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program. It was the most gratifying experience to see the generosity of my co-workers in action as the gifts for the children started coming in. Bicyles, skate boards, Dora the Explorer items, educational toys and games, the most gorgeous outfits... seeing how these children were going to be blessed by total strangers on Christmas morning was a precious Christmas gift for me too.
I pray that you will have a joyous and joyful Christmas holiday season and that all of your Christmas wishes come true.