The volume increases following Halloween. The trappings were up, the drum beat had already begun but the volume increased following Halloween. The drum beat is the enticement to enter into the secular, commercial observance of an event corporately known as “the Holidays”. The “Holidays” extend from Thanksgiving through the observance of the change of calendar we call “New Years!” They now include Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice and an event called by many names (Yuletide, X-Mas) but is usually known as Christmas.
It is chic and popular to decry the “Commercialization of Christmas”. But I have come to observe that most of us give our annual lip service to how commercial Christmas has become; we wag our heads we make those tsk tsk noises, we even vow to not “get sucked in"; but, in truth, very few of us do anything about it. Knowing there is a problem and doing nothing about it is to choose to simply be a part what we hate. In the Celebration of Discipline study group we have just studied the discipline of “simplicity”. In the interest of “simplicity” here are some “do’s” and “don’ts” I would suggest to help us reframe the “Holidays”.
1. Unplug: The Holiday drum beat pounds us down. Radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, Internet, stores, malls and cities and towns are all blaring out the same commercial message. BUY, BUY, BUY!!! Your children will be miserable if you don’t give them the biggest, latest and best. You won’t LOVE your family unless you buy, buy, buy! UNPLUG the noise making machine. Give you family a Media respite. Take an evening and play some board games together, spend a day at home without the noise. Unplug.
2. Set Limits: Do this now before the noise gets too loud. Set a reasonable limit on what you will spend for gifts – better yet make some space and time and create something unique and give them as gifts. Set a reasonable limit on the time you will spend at parties, gatherings, extra outings, shopping, etc. Set a reasonable limit on the extra activity. Christ Community will have ONE Sunday School program (on December 14). We will offer a variety of Christmas Eve celebrations to fit your schedule (December 21; December 24 at 5, 7, and 11).
3. Refocus: Here’s how:
A. Choose to have fun. Rather than the miserable, worn out, I hate the holiday’s attitude that many of us adopt, why not choose to have fun. Celebrate the sparkle, revel in the differences, and be playful and creative. Let your inner child out to play!
B. Choose to focus on relationships. Instead of form letters make a phone call. Instead of formal greetings meet a friend for coffee. Instead of material things give the gift of time, of fellowship, of relationships.
C. Choose worship. I could expound on the reason for the season and all the other trivial and common expressions that are popular this time of year but the truth is the celebration of Jesus birth is all intermixed with all the gift giving, party making, and overindulging that make up the holidays. What matters is what will I choose? Will I make it all about the material, the funny foods, and the external trappings of the season? Or, will I make it all about remembering that the savior of the world has arrived, born in Bethlehem to a young mother named Mary. Adeste Fideles (O Come all ye Faithful) has my favorite refrain of all the Christmas songs. It puts it best:
Venite Adoremus, dominum
O Come let us adore him, O come let us adore him, O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.