“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.

Colours of Life Dina DelfinoSo how do we get into the spirit when we don’t feel it anymore?

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!

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SOURCEThe Philippine Times, December 2018 edition
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Dina Mananquil-Delfino
Dina was a former editor-in-chief of The Philippine Times and has been its columnist for over 20 years. She has written two books, "Colours of Life" and "Under His Wings". Dina has been in the helping field for 40 years in the various roles she had fulfilled- teacher, employee in different organisations, volunteer, pastoral care worker. She is a member of Australian Counsellors of Australia (ACA) and Counsellors Victoria (CV). She brings into her practice her unique style of helping and understanding, having been exposed to various roles involving different cultures. She can relate to the challenges change brings. In her published book Colours of Life, she shares the angst and joy of being a migrant. As a Pastoral Care worker, she has helped many individuals and families empower themselves and encourage them to achieve order in their otherwise chaotic life. She also facilitates/conducts regular workshops/teachings in personal development. Dina’s strength is in pastoral care, assisting people journey through the difficult moments of serious illness, loss and bereavement, helping newly-arrived migrants, and emotionally embracing the elderly and senior members of the community, moving them to work towards a new vision of settlement, hope and comfort. DINA IS A QUALIFIED COUNSELOR AND PASTORAL CARE WORKER. She can be contacted on 0430 214 917. Email evamarie09@bigpond.com for comments or feedback on this story).

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