It’s official. Christmas mayhem has begun. As I sit here writing this on “Cyber Monday,” while most are still recovering from “Black Friday,” I want to suggest a completely novel idea that I’m sure you’ve never heard of. (Please note my sarcasm.) Christmas isn’t about shopping. It’s not about sitting outside all night on Thanksgiving night at Target just to get your hands on that 52” plasma screen TV – I know, I know, it was cheap, right?! Great. But we, especially as students at a university who grounds itself on the life of Jesus, need to remember what Christmas is really about. And guess what, nowhere in the Bible does Jesus say “Go spend exorbitant amounts of money in remembrance of me.” And as much as the Bible teaches us to do good and hate evil, it never taught us to be nice or else Santa wouldn’t come. Folks, it’s so much bigger than that.
I know, I sound like a Scrooge. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. I love the traditions, and the food, and the family, and the fellowship (and obviously I love vacation.) But it saddens me that our society is so focused on consuming and shopping that Christ is often left out of Christmas. They say “Keep Christ in Christmas,” and I don’t know if we have. So if Christ is gone, we have “–mas” left. But sometimes, mass is the last thought on our brains on Christmas morning. Essentially, this leaves us with nothing connected to our God, but rather an Americanized day of Santa and presents and reindeer. No offense, Rudolph. Again, I don’t want to be “that” person, the one who is bitter and hates on Christmas. But I really hope and pray that we can all set aside some special time this holiday season to focus on something other than our Christmas lists.
Here are some ideas, from yours truly – about how to celebrate Christmas Jesus-style!
1) This coming Sunday is the 2nd Sunday of Advent. So, even if you never have before, you can buy those purple and pink taper candles and create a little Advent wreath to keep the spirit of preparing for Christ to be in your home. Light ‘em up at dinner time, and you can even get a little prayer each night online. If you regularly enjoy your grub at the candle-less B-deis, just pretend (or read the prayers anyways.)
2) Take a night to go down to the Siena/Francis House and serve a meal to the needy. Make their holiday season a little brighter by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.
3) Make an effort to do something nice for someone, and if asked, say you’re doing it because it is what Christ-like people are meant to do, especially during this season.
4) Use this preparation for the coming of Christ as a time to re-examine your own faith and devotion. Maybe this means setting aside time to pray each day, or going to a daily mass one day a week.
5) Give God a gift! And no, I haven’t gone off the deep end, I promise. But do something which will please God. Perhaps this is forgiving someone who you have held a grudge against, or maybe this is sacrificing time to spend time with someone who is lonely. This could be a nursing home, or even just the kid who sits alone in the lunchroom.
6) Spread Christmas cheer by going caroling! I know it sounds old-fashioned, but a group of student athletes from FCA went out last year and it was an absolute blast. It’s almost better when you can’t sing and therefore people know you are just doing it out of goodwill.
7) Write a Christmas letter to a person in your family who you don’t talk to a lot, and who might especially appreciate receiving mail. Let them know that you are keeping them in your prayers. (And then actually keep them in your prayers.)
8) Read the Bible’s account of the Christmas story. Reading it on your own time may open your heart up to parts of it that you didn’t always notice during Christmas Day mass.
I hope that these tips can help to make your Christmas season a little more Christ-centered!