Monday, January 28, 2008

Christmas in My Heart: Reflecting on Christmas Past

"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach."- A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

For this first in the Christmas in My Heart series, I’d like to begin by thinking about the Christmas season that just recently finished. Many of us may feel worn out from Christmas and may not even want to think about it, but I think it is best to evaluate the Holiday while it is still relatively fresh in our minds, so we are better able to plan for next year a little at a time while it comes. That said, here are some questions to help you find what your priorities are for next year.

1. Did you get the chance to reflect on the meaning of Christmas? For Christians, we celebrate Jesus’ birth and willingness to sacrifice Himself for us, but I feel it is wrong to leave non-Christians out of this message. Be a shining example of the Peace that God’s love can bring to your life. If you are not Christian, Christmas is a beautiful and meaningful time to reflect on what you do believe or perhaps learn more about the Church.

I know that I was pretty busy this season with moving into our new home, and so did do as much Bible study and advent preparation as I would have liked. I’d like to say that I’ll never move at Christmas time again, but it wasn’t particularly my choice, and if we move again, it most likely won’t be up to me then either. So I’ll say that I’m very grateful that next year we most likely won’t be moving, and I’ll have had a whole year to make my new house our home and to plan for the holidays here.

2. Were you happy with the gifts that your gave others? Did the gifts reflect your priorities in life? Did you overspend or rack up credit card debt in order to give others gifts? Would you have rather made more of your gifts yourself?

I wanted to give gifts that would please the recipients and also would reflect my values, but I’m afraid that I was too preoccupied this year to really achieve this. Through the year, I plan to look for opportunities that might come up to buy in a charitable way, such as at the church sales in order to find gifts that will help others as well as be appreciated by my family. I’m also planning to make some things as the year goes on that will be for gifts or Christmas decorations so I won’t be trying to finish all these things at once. To avoid last minute gift shopping and stress, I’d like to have all of my gifts bought by Thanksgiving, and any goodie packages or candy gifts made and sent by the first week in Dec.

3. Did you put too much stress on yourself decorating or un-decorating your house? Did you tire out or lose your temper over putting up the tree or other decorations?

It’s easy to get frustrated when you have too many decorations! Every year, as I put my Christmas things away, I sort out which things are not favorites or don’t have specific meaning. I find this is especially important if the decorations won’t fit back into the storage totes. If you have to buy more totes every year to store your Christmas things, it might be time to be ruthless in sorting things out. Find a newly married couple or perhaps a charity that works with victims of house fires to donate some of your extra decorations.

4. What traditions did you enjoy the most? If there are particular traditions that you and your family enjoy every year, put these right at the top of your priority list, and make sure that nothing else gets in the way.

We have too many traditions to name them all here, and we’re starting new ones every year as well. Our favorites are cooking and baking together and relaxing together after we open gifts.
Every year, no matter where we are for Christmas, we’ve found it very important to go to Mass together. Some years we’ve gone to Midnight Mass with my night owl brother and sister. Or we go to Christmas Day Mass with my parents. This year, it was just the two of us at Christmas Eve Mass, but it was special and it serves to remind us of God’s love demonstrated by Jesus becoming man.

We also enjoy watching certain movies every year. My favorite is The Muppet Christmas Carol. This year we added some unconventional Christmas movies, Die Hard, Die Hard 2, and Gremlins. This was pretty fun as well, so I think we’ve started a yet another new tradition.

5. Was there anything you would change about this last Christmas? Anything at all you would love to do again and again? Share your final thoughts about how you feel now that another Christmas season is over. Make a short priority list of what you might like more of next year.

I’d like more time with our families, and more of a chance to visit with all our brothers and sisters. I’d like more planning when it comes to food gifts and gifts for friends out of state, so they’ll get things on time. I’d like more forethought in writing Christmas cards, and I’d like to send more of them out and have them sent by the second week of December.
Please join me in honouring Christmas all through the year and share your own reflections on Christmas Past in a post on your blog. If you don't have a blog, feel free to answer in the comments section. Link to your post here with the Mr. Linky.

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1 comment:

Melonie said...

Excellent questions, Bethany! I hope you get lots of participants!

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