Sunday, December 21, 2014

'Tis the Season

It’s the holiday season! Are you ready for it? Ready or not, we cannot stop time in its tracks. Are you frazzled and trying to fit too many experiences into your holiday? Extending credit to purchase more things for those you love (and even for some you do not)? How many unmet expectations are filling you with dread and resentment? Really… how many items are on your To-Do List? Too many?

For a moment stop and think about your Christmas Past, yes Mr. Dickens, those ghosts of Christmas Past. Of all your Christmas memories, what one thing comes to the forefront? Is it even a thing? Or is it more of a feeling? This will probably be different for each one of us, won’t it?

A few weeks back, our church held an evening “Blue Christmas Service”. It was specifically designed for those who may be hurting or depressed during the holiday season. The holidays are not always pleasant and are downright painful for some. Especially if a family member is ill or has passed on during the course of the year.

It can be difficult to observe others who are making “merry and bright” when your spirit is crushed. It is a difficult time for those who are incarcerated. They are missing their families and children. Then there are those who are missing their imprisoned family members. Generally speaking, if it is the spouse or a parent who is in prison, then there has usually been some economic set back for those on the “outside”.

It is the Christ Child we are to honor. Not each other. I recently read one person’s discourse on Christmas gifting for the immediate family: One gift they want, one gift they need, an article of clothing and a book to read. Simply speaking, this is four gifts and not a myriad of them; not incurred debt. How often do we operate out of guilt and "have to" rather than love?

I find it difficult to understand the person who disavows religion or church and yet will do “the Christmas” thing. Perhaps it is the "X-mas" thing. Speaking for me, there is a vast difference between religion and being spiritual; between religion and relationship. Am I religious? No. But I have a deep, spiritual longing and from that I desire to study and be a better person in my neighborhood and world.

In a most thoughtful manner, I attempted to simplify our lives and material possessions over two years ago. Some days I do this well. Other days I do not. Like all of life, it is a process and a progression. Want more ideas for a more simple life? Visit this site:

We have a potted Norfolk pine as our symbol of the Christmas Tree this year. Red bows and small bulbs adorn the tree as well as battery operated led lights.  If all goes well, we will have the tree again next year… and the year after that… and so on. Our ceilings are low, so I didn’t want to put up the artificial tree and I don’t want a presumed “live” tree that is cut, dies and will become landfill somewhere. In addition to the Norfolk pine, we also set up a Menorah with candles. Our Savior was a Jew and He is the light of the world. Admittedly, Hubs did some outside decorating with lights and garland. After the season we will attempt to find a Nativity / Manger to add to the collection.

Gifts for the Hubs and I? Truly, we have all we need and wants – well, they change daily! We have learned the art of discerning between our wants and needs. Simply stated, that has helped us to par down possessions. Fortunately, or unfortunately as the case may be, we enjoy the tastes and scents of the season. Christmas cookies, holiday baked goods, turkey, ham, cranberry relish… yes, the list goes on and on. Here in the SW, tamales are a Christmas staple. Oh, they're good other times as well, but it is a traditional Christmas gift to neighbors, here.

We send gift cards to Grands, tamales from Tucson Tamale Company to others. If we were closer to family, the best gift would be that of spending time with them. We have not seen the Arizona Grands since August and were able to visit with the Ohio Grands in October. 

I recall one year when celebrating a Grand’s birthday, the mother informed us if we were to get anything for the child, we must also get something for the other, older child. She stated it wasn’t “fair” to the other child not to get something, too. That child is in for a rude awakening, for life isn’t fair, is it? I believe that is a part of the problem in our society today. We are unable to honor or celebrate others and believe what they have should be ours, but then I digress.

Our church has a Christmas Eve Service and a noon dinner as well as a Christmas Day service followed by a Christmas Brunch. Having no defined plans this year, we signed up to participate and provide food items. Generally speaking, we have persons in the neighborhood who will find their way to these services and meals. We are happy to serve them. Amazingly, there always seems to be enough food to share!

What holiday traditions do you employ?

Do you serve any special food for the season?

What is your favorite Christmas carol?

So I end with the words of a hymn.  The haunting minor chord of Advent – “O Come, O Come Emmanuel…”

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Wishing you Christmas blessings. May your day be merry and bright.


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