“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.” Roy Smith.
I took a train to the city recently to attend a seminar. As the train stopped at Parliament Station, I could not help reminisce the 27 years of train trips every day as part of my work routine. It must have been only by the grace of God that I was able to sustain such regimen and I am glad I no longer need to do it at my age.
To some of us who have been gone through many years of Christmas, the season likewise brings many reflective moments, and we wonder how we survive each Christmas time. The demands to make it merry is always there. Presents, gift-giving, meal preparations, holidays, trips, vacations, reunions can make it exciting but also stressful. Our days are marked by hurried days, appointments, bookings, schedules, scramble for parking spots, fear of getting into further debt. And for some of us getting older, spending the days in front of the stove and cleaning up a pile of dishes no longer seem to find this an attractive thought.
An article in the Franciscan media shares: “Christmas is a holy time that invites you to reflect on the most important issues in life, especially escaping the darkness of ignorance and arriving at the light of new understanding and possibility. It ritualizes the birth of your soul. Remember that ritual is an ordinary action carried out with special attention to its poetics that has far greater significance than would appear. If you take Christmas to heart and get past the anxieties in arranging for gifts and parties, you will rediscover yourself every year at this time and experience birth in yourself, just like the one so beautifully described in the Gospel stories. It will be a celebration of both the birth of Jesus and the birth of your own soul.”
As the spirit of Christmas is in giving, not getting, we reach out in love to those who need it most. It does not have to be a material gift, although for some members of our community a present can sparkle their life. Spending time with a lonely friend, relative or family member and sometimes even a stranger, is a treasured offering. Reconciling and forgiving, the heart softening is a blessed act. Remembering the birth of Christ puts us into a position of humility and obedience. Attending church services connects us to people of faith and hope and we can sing together of the night being holy and calm. Honouring deceased loved ones we have lost during the season will help us overcome the grief and sadness for missing them on such a special time.
One spiritual writer said that what you bring to Christmas is the window of your soul. It is a great time to examine if your Christmas illuminates your soul or darkens it.
Jesus is the true spirit of Christmas. Without Him, there is only materialism, self-absorption, greed and tokenism. But with Him at the centre, there is a world of joy, peace, hope, love, compassion, friendship, service. It is hard to give of one’s full self like Jesus did, but it is not impossible to share some wonderful part of ourselves.
If we can look at Christmas as a spiritual journey to Bethlehem, the days we will travel towards it will take on new meaning and might stir our soul to rejoice again.
May the joy and love of Jesus be your present at Christmas and His peace and hope your treasure for the New Year. God bless you!