First let me take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah. It’s the weekend before Christmas day. All preparations are completed except for the cooking of our Christmas day feast. Jews and Christians alike carve out time during this weekend to worship and many will attend service or Mass on Christmas Eve or Christmas day.
This year, this season, I have been more reflective than ever before. Perhaps that is what happens when you reach the 70’s, although I don’t feel that old. I still feel as if I were in my 50’s. Thankfully mentally I remain as sharp as ever. Yet my legs, from time to time, remind me that I continue down the path of old age.
This year as I joined in the rituals of the season, baking, wrapping presents and listening to my favorite music, Mannheim Steamroller, I found myself reflecting on the stages of our lives.
The materialism of Christmas is truly for children. Remember when you were a child and the excitement of Christmas consumed you? You could barely stand to wait for Christmas morning and the anticipation of opening your presents with complete abandon. I was an ornery child and the bane of my Mother’s existence, to be sure. I would silently and surreptitiously search for my presents. I would always find the mother lode and would carefully open and reseal the Christmas wrapping to see if my wishes were fulfilled. Usually they were. One year my Mother got the best of me and hid our presents in a chest-style freezer that I never would have explored. That Christmas morning I noted her sly smile of satisfaction and I realized that She Who Knows Everything, knew that in years past I had found my presents but had failed to do so this one time.
As you moved into young adulthood it became a time of celebration, spending time with friends, boyfriends, girlfriends and not so much with family. You were spreading your wings, the world was yours and you were busy crafting your own unique identity. It’s the season of feel good and look good. The only material things you craved were cash, lots of it or something trendy and hip.
Your middle years became about family…your children and your spouse. It was a time to visit friends and family, take the kids to traditional Christmas events, shop til you drop, bake goodies with the kids, assemble the bikes and doll houses and wrap that pile of presents for the children. You are busy building traditions that your children will remember forever. You are busy, busy, busy and the true meaning of the season has slipped into the further recesses of your mind. Materialism leaves no room for spiritualism.
Suddenly a new kind of Christmas arrives. Perhaps you are retired. Your children have made lives for themselves and now there are grandchildren to spoil. Materially there is nothing you really need or want. You are at a stage in life where when you need something you simply go buy it. There is more satisfaction in giving to others. This becomes the time of your life that brings an appreciation for the real meaning of Christmas. You have earned the luxury of reflection and the realization that Christmas is really about God’s plan for an imperfect human-kind. What greater gift than to give His only Son to redeem us and to mend our souls.
You may not accept or even believe in God. Your beliefs are respected. But the joy of Christmas for many is in knowing that God gave his only Son for us. So, you see, Christmas really is for you and the greatest gift of this season that you will receive is the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
© Joyce Clark, 2014
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