December 1, 2014
As the season of Advent begins, the activities in our lives shift into a mode of preparation. We start whipping together the Christmas goodies, pulling out the Christmas and winter decorations, and shopping begins for the presents on our ever-growing Christmas gift lists.
It’s a joyous time, but do you ever feel like it’s just too much? That there’s no way you’re going to get everything done by Christmas? Do you lose your peace and forget to focus on what’s really important?
It’s easy to lose sight of Christ in the midst of all of the activities. We know that Advent is a time to prepare for God’s birth into the world as a tiny baby, and as Catholics we know that this is a time to prepare for Jesus’ second coming as well. But, how are we incorporating this preparation into our day-to-day activities?
The mystery of Christmas exemplifies how close God wants to be to us—that He would actually take on our weak and vulnerable flesh to be one of us to show His deep desire for friendship with us. This season reminds us of Christ’s gift of His presence. His name Emmanuel literally means “God with us” (Mt. 1:23).
This year, how about rather than purchasing presents to give others, we focus on giving ourselves to the people we love—giving the gift of our presence. Show affection and interest in them. Ask questions that go beyond the surface. Let them pick the activity to do together. Let them know how much they mean to you.
A couple of years ago, my family decided to switch gears in our Christmas gift-giving practices. All of us kids are now adults so rather than exchange gifts we decided to only buy something that we can enjoy as a family—something that brings us closer to one another. This has been such a refreshing change as the limited time we have together is so precious. The shopping stress has been minimized, and our time together is spent playing games, sledding, singing/playing Christmas songs, visiting relatives, praying the Rosary, and making memories.
Perhaps now is the perfect time to simplify our Christmas traditions and break away from the consumerism holiday our society has turned this beloved feast into. We don’t have to stop giving materials items, but let’s focus on what’s really important.
None of us know how much time we will be given so let’s make the moments we have with our loved ones really count this Christmas season.