08 December 2009

It's not that I HATE Christmas...

Everybody should recognize this picture: Ebenezer Scrooge is iconic. Known worldwide as the man who hated Christmas, he made the phrase "bah humbug" famous and every year, millions of people go to theatres around the world to listen to the tale of how he finds redemption in changing his mind about Christmas. Make the statement that you don't "do" Christmas and watch how many people start calling you by his name. I know...it happens to me every year right about this time of year.

Now, for the record, I do not HATE Christmas...not in it's true, pure form. What I hate is the commercialism and the expectations of others because someone, somewhere decided that December 25th is the day we are supposed to celebrate the birth of Christ. (Y'all do realize that ain't His real birthday, right? He was born in the springtime, otherwise, why were the shepherds out watching their flocks by night?) And with retailers starting to push Christmas toys and sales and bargains in September, long before Halloween (another "holiday" I don't do) and Thanksgiving, it seems like all year long, all people do is talk about Christmas. Well, I say, BAH HUMBUG!!!

Sad thing is: I used to be such the Christmas holiday person - buying the cards and mailing them, putting up the lights, getting little trinkets all through the year for people because I thought they might enjoy this or that, planning holiday gatherings and marking the calendar for others' gatherings as well, buying and listening to holiday music - it was truly "the most wonderful time of the year"...but about 3 years ago, I'd had enough. Not that I'm into the "tit for tat" of it all, but I was mailing out over 300 cards each year and getting maybe 75 cards in return...giving gifts to EVERY secretary I worked with on my floor and it not being reciprocated - and yet hearing comments like, "Ooo, I cannot wait to see what she gives us this year, she always gives such good and thoughtful gifts." REALLY? And the running, running, running was wearing me out! So, I just decided one year I wasn't doing it anymore. I wrote up a little notice that I put in all my holiday cards stating, "next year I ain't doing this." and made up my mind that I wasn't.

Can we talk about the resistance I received? You woulda thought I was crucifying Jesus on the cross all over again all by myself! I was questioned about my Christianity and faith in Jesus - I was called unAmerican - and I was definitely called Scrooge - over and over and over again. But I held firm and now, 3 years later, most of my friends have either joined me in my protest of the day or really really wish they could. This year especially, with the hard economic times and job losses, people tell me that they are finding it harder and harder to have the "Christmas spirit". I would propose it is because we have lost the true focus and meaning of the season.

So, here is my suggestion if you are not quite ready to give up the lights, cards, presents, and all the other busyness of the holiday: take some time to just reflect on the true reason for the season. Jesus and what He might do in today's trying times. Hmmm...how 'bout going to the nursing home and visiting with an older person who may not have any family or friends to visit them? How 'bout inviting a single person or parent over to your house for dinner? How 'bout giving your child one toy and not the entire toy store? Or better yet, have them pick a favorite toy and then take the rest of the stuff they receive (and probably do not need) to a local shelter to bless another child or children who might not receive any toys at all? Participate in a feeding program at a church or other outreach center. Make the holiday about someone else other than yourself. Just a few suggestions. (and I'm talking to myself as I write). We need to step outside our boxes of comfort and touch the lives of others in tangible ways. Why not start this Christmas? Baby steps...baby steps.

Be blessed.

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