Saturday, November 24, 2012

I Wish You a Calm and Serene December

Some people wish Merry Christmas.  Yes, that will come, I am sure.  But we face a common paradox this last month of the year.  It is supposed to be the happiest, sweetest, most loving time of the year in which we focus on religion in whichever form we see fit.  But here's the inevitable question: How often is December anything much more than a constant, hysterical headache?  I thought so.

When I was young I was often depressed during the family Christmas parties and spent a good amount of time alone in whatever manner I could find.  It was nothing against my family, but when we as a society are so bombarded with demands, invitations, lights and the stress of following traditions that I always felt there was something important missing.  As I matured I realized that what I felt was amiss was that it was difficult to commune with God through all the brash and bright festivities.  When we measure our religious devotion at this time by our zeal not for God but for engagements and singing carols in the streets we rob ourselves of the whole point of Christmas (or whatever celebration we decide to honor).  Truthfully, were it not for my kids who become highly excited for the presents et cetera I would be wholly content to spend the latter part of the month alone in my room on my knees in prayer, reading the four Gospels or quietly rendering anonymous service to others.  It seems more appropriate.

But we live in this loud and boisterous world.  We can't very well spend the whole month in that manner but I would encourage each of us to simplify this year as much as is humanly possible.  Forget the million traditions and do what will bring you and yours closer to God.  If that means forgetting the cookies you usually bake for everyone in the neighborhood or contenting yourself with one string of lights instead of decorating every inch of your home inside and out, then have the courage to defy the status quo.  This year I started making Christmas presents in January and though I am not finished, and some of those around me will have to settle for something store bought it has taken a great deal of stress and strain from the season.  While we may not be able to do that this year, we might think of starting early next year and thus truly keep Christmas in our lives all year round. 

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