One of my favorite Christmas carols is Silver Bells. I sang it this morning with my daughter and a friend while bell ringing for the Salvation Army outside of a local grocery store. The words seemed almost ironic. “Children laughing, people passing, meeting smile after smile….”
When we were started, about 50% of people would look our way to return a smile or a “Merry Christmas.” If they would, nearly 90% of those were elderly. Most people were rushed, preoccupied, serious, and stressed. I’m sure that I have been guilty of that as well. What a reflection of society when we cannot even acknowledge a greeting. I told my teenage daughter everyone needs love so continue to give it and joy is contagious. So we started singing.
The change was incredible! People walking into the store would sing along. Donations increased amazingly for the Salvation Army. Smiles were met with smiles. Why the change? I wonder if people were reminded of what Christmas is supposed to mean. Did they feel it through our choice to share it and show it?
A popular saying among Christians during the Christmas season is “Jesus is the reason for the season.” The truth of that statement is hard to guard and balance in today’s society. When pocket books are empty, calendars are busy, colds and flus begin, and school/work schedules are stressed, our attitudes often struggle to exemplify this.
This is the time of Advent: Advent is a season observed as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. Bottom-line, our children have to see this, not through the nativity scenes put out in the yard or around the house, but in our gratitude, attitude and love for those around us.
What an interesting dynamic we have to own when it comes to comparing the outward beauty of Christmas lights and decorations of the season, to the true exquisiteness of a generous and gentle spirit in a follower committed to being the true essence of the light of this season and what it stands for.
So many wonderful things happen during the holidays, such as sacrificial giving to provide gifts for needy children or hot meals for the hungry and elderly. Though if these things are done without a patient and gracious heart or humble attitude, they are in vain and we have failed to represent what we claim Christmas is all about.
I have had many conversations with people in leadership positions this holiday season that expose people's character during this busy and stressed season. Complaints and frustrations spike for administration and businesses. Families experience dissension and division, deciding who will host events, how presents will be exchanged, and how they will afford it all. Instead of joy, a shadow of sadness clouds the truth. What more would Satan want than this?
Can I encourage you to Stop? Breathe? Pray? Be still and remember to be who God created us to be: HIS. His light. His love. For HIS glory. Nothing else matters.
How? Some wonderful friends of mine reminded me of simple ways to do this, BUT you have to intentionally make time for it. Here are a few ways to be too blessed to be stressed.
- Watch classic Christmas movies with friends and family.
- Enjoy hot cocoa or coffee by the fire with Christmas music.
- Take a drive looking at lights and decorations.
- Do something UNplanned, UNstressful (maybe even freedom to get messy) like making a gingerbread house with the kids.
- Go get a massage, pedicure or manicure…
Then maybe when someone cuts you off in traffic, takes your parking spot, or something doesn't go your way, your response will proclaim, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season!”
Merry Christmas and May God bless you and your family!