It’s another Christmas/holiday season. The majority here celebrate the biggest festival of the year, while others make the most of the holidays. Irrespective of whichever category you fall under, this is probably the busiest time of the year.
While scrolling for really-last-minute gift ideas and quick-and-delicious appetizer recipes, I came across a couple of (totally unrelated, but very timely) Christmas messages. Those missives prompted one not to lose sight of the real meaning of this special season. The authors urged one not to get bogged down by shopping lists, get lost under wrapping paper, or stress over the dinner menu but to embrace the true spirit of Christmas.
It brought back something I had read many, many years ago. A young man had written about his favorite Christmas memory from his childhood. Times were tough, and money was tight. His mother (a single parent) struggled to keep the family fed and clothed. She could not afford to spend on presents or festive dinners. But, his mother was determined that the children would have a Christmas to celebrate.
On Christmas Eve, the family gathered on the doorstep to watch the moon and the festive bustle of the neighborhood. Huddled together under the wintry sky, the young mother narrated the story of the birth of Christ. She spoke of His love for everyone. She told them how He taught the world to help and care for each other and share with those less fortunate.
In the end, she asked the children to exchange notes she’d had them write earlier. Each one had written down what they loved the most about each sibling. Those notes were the only Christmas gifts they got to exchange that year.
I don’t remember many details of the story. But the infinite wisdom of that young woman and the priceless gift she gave her young children that Christmas has stayed with me. In the ingenious ways of a mother, she knit her family closer together. Squabbling is often the norm between siblings. Imagine the joy of knowing your pesky little brother/sister or moody older brother/sister loves something you! Isn’t that the greatest gift of all? Knowing you are loved, that someone cares and that you are not alone.
These days we can be forgiven for thinking that the best gifts come from stores (or online). We are lulled into believing memories are made only in picture-perfect settings. Stuck behind checkout lines or in bumper-to-bumper traffic while frantically trying to knock off one more item of the never-ending list, let’s rekindle the Christmas spirit.
With or without brightly wrapped presents, let us offer forgiveness and kindness. Let’s choose to remember the good and let go of the not-so-good. Let’s willingly open our hearts to one another; generously share what we have with those who need it more. The feeling of togetherness and the hope for a better tomorrow that blankets the world during some of the year’s coldest days is what makes Christmas special. Let us make it more special by staying focused on the generous, kind, and forgiving spirit that still lives in us.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!