The spirit of Christmas

“A very Merry GIFTMAS!” proclaims the latest Canadian Tire advertising flier. Really? Is that what this season is all about?

Sadly, for too many people Christmas has become little more than a commercial frenzy and a time of ever increasing stress. We mouth the words to traditional carols announcing peace on earth, goodwill to men as we rush from store to store and bills pile up. Perhaps young families feel it the most. Mounting costs and time constraints make it difficult for them to find any peace and joy during this season.

My daughter’s latest Facebook status and her sister-in-law’s response say it so clearly.

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Over the years, we’ve tried to focus on the reason for the season and keep our Christmas preparations simple but obviously we need to look for ways to make it even less stressful; less about the gifts and the preparations and more about the CHRIST of Christmas.

Sharing our Christmas preparations with Sheila this year is making me more conscious of the things we do simply because we’ve always done them that way. There’s nothing wrong with traditions. In fact, they often make life easier. Planning Christmas dinner is simplified by the fact that we prepare basically the same meal year after year, but if those traditions become a source of stress and anxiety, perhaps they need to change.

I haven’t done a lot of decorating yet but, as always, the first thing to come out was the beautiful olive wood nativity set that my parents sent us from the Holy Land the year they spent Christmas there. As we put out each piece, Sheila, who had absolutely no idea why we celebrate Christmas, and I read the accounts of Jesus’ birth from Luke 2 and the visit of the magi from Matthew 2.

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But then, out came Santa Claus and I had to try to explain his role in the story.

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For that, I used another favourite ornament, my kneeling Santa. Perhaps he best symbolizes what I’m trying to say today; we need to find a way to ensure that the spirit of GIFTMAS bows before the true spirit of CHRISTMAS!

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