May peace and joy be with you this Christmas
This week we celebrate the birth of a child whose destiny was to show the world how to live a better, more peaceful life.
We all know the story of the first Christmas. A poor mother and father, she heavy with the child of the Holy Spirit, travel to Bethlehem for the census taking. While there she delivers of a baby boy, Jesus. Wise men travel from afar to give the baby gifts. To celebrate the birth of Christianity, we also partake of the rituals of gift giving, emulating the Magi of two centuries ago.
For several weeks, months even, we prepare for Christmas by choosing, buying and wrapping gifts for our family and friends.
We agonize over what to get and who to buy for, and fret over getting it all done before December 24.
Collectively, people rack up millions of dollars of debt on credit cards trying to make Christmas perfect by pleasing every one on their list.
We strive for perfection: aiming to make the house perfect for Christmas — just like the pictures of Christmas trees, Christmas tables and homes that appear on the front covers of housekeeping and home decorating magazines in the weeks leading up to the holiday.
We drive ourselves crazy trying to have everything just so.
We don’t think Jesus meant for us to go to so much trouble and worry for His sake.
While He wanted us to do onto others as we would have others do onto us, He probably never meant for us to put ourselves into debt trying to be nice to the other person.
Christmas should not be about doing so much, spending so much, stretching yourself so thin — financially and emotionally — that you wish the holiday wouldn’t come at all.
If this is what is has become for you, perhaps it’s time to step back and make a better game plan for next Christmas.
Make it a family game plan to keep Christmas simple. Set a budget and stick to it. Keep the traditions you enjoy and eliminate those that leave you feeling overwhelmed with stress.
If you enjoy Christmas carols, take the time to stop the rushing around and attend a simple church service, or school concert.
Explain to your friends that you simply can’t afford to give everyone gifts. You can still do nice things for those whose friendship you treasure but it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. A simple day of helping with the housework, or looking after the children to allow a friend to have a day to themselves would probably be much more appreciated than an expensive trinket.
Christmas is not just about the presents under the tree. It’s a day to celebrate how your life has been enriched by your family, your friends, and the people who have done good things for you in the past year.
It’s a chance to slow down, contemplate and enjoy a bit of peace.
Our wish for all the people we deal with in the course of a year is that they enjoy peace and happiness this Christmas and for the rest of the year.
Merry Christmas to you all.