Speaking for Christians around the world, this Advent season was a time to prepare for Christ's birth. We set up our Nativity scenes around the house and hide the baby Jesus until Christmas morning. We will read about the generosity and history of St. Nicholas. We set out our Jesse tree with ornaments that reflect Old Testament History leading to Christ's birth. Our family reads one of a 3 set series, one chapter a day until Christmas. We have Advent wreaths, secret santa's, Advent calendars and prayers. We make cookies in the shape of the entire Nativity scene or build one out of craft sticks and clothes pins. We write our good deeds on strips of paper and lie them in the manger that Jesus will be born in. The more good deeds we have, the more comfortable Jesus is. The list goes on and on. Anyone with experience in these traditions will tell you that if you try to do them all, your kids will end up with and stressed and angry parent! We must choose wisely what we will do during the season so we can truly celebrate the season that gives glory to God.
During the season, I have noticed some discontented, but good intentioned people that spend much of their preparation upset with the commercialism and lack of the "true" meaning of Christmas surrounding them. I heard of one man yelling at a cashier in response to a "Happy Holiday's" greeting. He rudely "corrected" the employee that it is NOT "Happy Holiday's", it is "Merry Christmas!". (I cleaned up the words for you:) I wish I was there to correct this customer on what "Happy Holiday's" really mean. "Holidays" comes from the words, "Holy Days". So, what this cashier was REALLY saying is Happy Thanksgiving, Happy St. Nicholas Day...I hope your shoes(boots) were filled to the rim with all the treasures of your heart!.. Happy Feast of Our Lady of Guadeloupe, Happy Feast of St. Lucy, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Happy feast day of Mary the Mother of God and Happy New Year! The cashier just covered every Holy-day for 6 weeks! How insulting of this customer to expect this employee to delete all of these Holy-days!
Here is something that can rip the heart of a Christian. Crossing out "Christ" and replacing it with X. Merry X-mas! What is the history of X-Mas? Well..."X" is Greek for Chi which stands for Christ....the REAL Christ. The "X" actually identifies Christ as being the REAL Christ. It separates the word into "Christ" and the "Mass". I am not familiar with how it got started per say but I have an educated guess. I have a theory that Christians were starting to notice Christ slowly being faded out from Christmas so in order to make it clear and remind others that this is about Christ, people started using "X" and separating it from the "mass". This is about Christ and the Mass people!
On December 5th, I enjoy reading A Special Place for Santa by Jeanne Pieper. It begins with 2 women complaining that Santa is taking over Christmas and people are forgetting the real significance of Christmas. Well, Santa overhears this and his feelings are hurt. So, he does what every good Saint does and turns to God. God comforts Saint Nicholas and reminds him of all the good he did when he was on Earth back in the 4th century...his generosity and his secret gifts he left for people. He builds up St. Nick's spirits to continue his work. Its a wonderful story. I have to beg the question to those who believe that he is the result of people forgetting who we are really celebrating this season...could it be you that has actually forgotten? Something to think about.
I pray that you had an Advent full of gifts you have given to Jesus for His birthday. Was it full of generosity and kindness to those in the parking lots and the stores and the lines? Did you give to others in need? Did you sacrifice yourself for the good of others? Did you focus on Christs birth or were you upset that others didn't? Thank God for Gods mercy and forgiveness. I pray that every one of us can give God our hearts completely and totally by treating others...even atheists, sinners, the in-laws (haha! jk) with compassion, patience, kindness and generosity. Remember, every person you make eye contact with was made in the image and likeness of God. That person you see from a distance or that stranger behind the counter was put here to make visible what is invisible. Merry X-Mas and Happy Holidays!!