Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Musings #4 - The Real Joys

We've idealized Christmas on so many levels in the USA. We have songs like "I'm dreaming of a White Christmas," "I'll be home for Christmas," and "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire." There is an expectation that everything will be merry and bright and joyful.

But December is an extremely hectic month as we try to make those idealized Christmas thoughts a reality. We become so rushed and harried that peace and joy are hard to find.

Living in Central Texas, "winter" can be 80 degrees - no snow in sight. When the kids were older, we went to the mountains for Christmas so we could have that "White Christmas." And yes, that was special. But the last few years, we've stayed in Central Texas. This year, the weather was at least cold enough to enjoy a fire in the fireplace.

For many people, Christmas does not always live up to the expectations - not everyone is lucky enough to have a congenial family to go home to. For others, loved ones are now in heaven, leaving empty places at the table. Joy can be mixed with grief.

Many families go into a lot of debt to provide wonderful gifts for everyone - creating hardships for the next year. And television commercials also feed into this "idealized" Christmas - with subliminal hints that the perfect diamond gift will make our beloved love us more.

To me, the important parts of Christmas are the remembrance of that tiny babe born in Bethlehem and time spent with my family and closest friends. While gifts are nice, it is more important to have time to enjoy our earthly relationships and to have time to contemplate the greatest gift of all - baby Jesus.

I'm not always successful in planning my Decembers keeping these priorities in perspective. But as I ponder the joys of this Christmas - extended time with my immediate family - I write these posts to remind myself (and perhaps you as well) how important it is not to get so wrapped up in the "tinsel" of an idealized Christmas that we miss the true joys of a real Christmas.

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