Christmas has been on my mind a lot recently. Since the end of October the stores have begun to line the shelves with red and green baubles and candies. Pictures of Santa smile down at customers as they wander through the back aisles of Target and Walmart. The Christmas dressed aisles brought a grumble from my sweetheart just before Halloween. He remembers all to vividly the pain and agony of the retail life, stocking shelves months in advance and being forced to listen to the most bouncy, cheerful, commercial Christmas music over and over again eight hours a night, five nights a week. I have a large amount of sympathy for his feelings of the commercial retail holiday spirit. I know there are a lot of others out there who feel the same way about the Holiday season for various reasons. It has become too commercial or too politically correct. Personally I don't share these feelings. I hum along cheerfully with the jingle of bells and the carols about snowmen and reindeer. I grow nostalgic and can't help but smile when I see an evergreen tree shining in the store with lights all twinkling. I have been in choir for many years and always have looked forward to singing Christmas music as early as possible because it brings me such joy.
Now I am certainly not calling those who grumble about the crazy unnecessary madness about the holidays Grinches or scrooges or anything negative. I can appreciate the desire to keep the Christmas season simple and close to Christian and moral values of giving and love. However there is absolutely no way in capitalist america that retailers will ever get their money grubbing claws out of Christmas. Cars will always go on sale. Phone retailers will always try to talk you into buying that "perfect" electronic leash for your loved ones, There will always be songs on the radio and jingles reminding you that you just might want to be the receiver of some spectacular toy. So here is my Christmas loving philosophy; take it or leave it as you will.
The first question you must ask yourself is What does Christmas mean to you (or whatever you may or may not celebrate at this time of the year)? I am a devout Christian. The birth of Christ, my Lord, my Savior and my Redeemer brings tender and sacred feelings directly to my heart. Sure, I enjoy the Santa stuff, and the gift giving (and receiving), but the true meaning of Christmas, my very personal meaning of Christmas is why I REALLY love this time of the year. To me every smiley Santa Claus popcorn tin and twinkling Christmas tree is a personal reminder of why Christmas makes me happy. In my mind each roll of snowy wrapping paper and candy cane is a reminder of the gift of God's son. Everything I see becomes decorations for a grand celebration of his birth. So here is my challenge for you; the next time you feel overwhelmed by the big bold advertisements for the latest and greatest gadget you must have take a second to ask yourself why am I even celebrating at all? Make an effort to put out of your mind that each store's merry trimmings are probably just about making money this quarter of the fiscal year and remind yourself of the things that are the most important to you. You'll probably find that they are well worth celebrating (although you will probably thank yourself later for walking AROUND the advertisement to a more frugal choice in holiday spending). Re-frame this dazzling picture of worldly merriment in your mind and turn it into a dazzling spiritual celebration. Make every strand of tinsel and every bough of holly part of your personal celebration. Allow the spirit of Love or Family or giving or Christ to be the center of everything you see and hear. My sincere hope is that it will bring a smile to your face. You might even find yourself humming along to a silly song about a reindeer with a shiny nose.