Christmastime is my favorite time of year. People in general are far more likely to wish anyone well, even if they are a stranger. Don’t you wish it was like that every day? Kids are more like that than adults. If you ask kids what they think about Christmas they will most likely say that they are all excited that Santa is coming bringing them gifts. It is a magical and joyous time of year. We all need to experience love and joy in our lives, no matter how young or old we are. So, what better time of year, then sharing in the joy of the birth of a child, especially the birth of Jesus. Jesus is the ultimate gift of love to us from God of God himself.
How do we know when someone truly loves us? They can express it in many ways. It may be a hug and kiss. It may be them actually saying that they love us. It may be through giving of gifts like Santa Clause, freely given with no expectation of anything in return. But I would say the best expression of love is the gifting of oneself. What does that mean? It means making the time for someone, being present to them not just through texting and phone calls which is a great way to supplement the ultimate gift which is being physically present in their life.
There is someone who no matter what happens in your life will always be there for you, no matter where you are, no matter how far away from home. Christmastime helps to remind us. Of course as good and as loving and generous Santa Clause is, no matter how much joy he brings you, we must not forget the source of all love, the one giving us the best gift we could ever want, that is the gift of himself, the gift of God being present in our lives. This gift is Jesus also known as Emmanuel which means “God is with us”. God is with us no matter what we experience in life, no matter what time of year. God loves us unconditionally, faults and all. There is no better gift then experiencing Christmas, Jesus present in our lives, each and every day, not just one day a year.
The Christmas season is a time when most people, whether they are Christian or not, are challenged to remember that we are meant to be nice to one another. We call this the Christmas spirit. The spirit of love that lights up our day and cuts through the fog of life as Rudolf’s nose lights the way in a storm. This time of year can be a stressful time with all the planning and schedules to buy gifts and touch base with all our family and friends, but it is also the most joyous time of year as we remember that we are surrounded by love.
Love is the foundation of this season and it only makes true sense when we realize who brings us this love. We can easily lose sight of the source. Jesus himself helps reminds us that the spirit of Christmas is not about the presents, it is about the giving of oneself, to be physically present to those you love, so they can personally experience the gift of love which is what you are actually bringing them, the gift of you.
Sometimes I think of the parable of Martha and Mary when Jesus came to visit them. Martha was burdened with much anxiety preparing the meal, as one would expect a good host to do, but while she was laboring in the kitchen, Mary sat and enjoyed Jesus’ company. I am sure we can all relate to Martha during the holiday season but Jesus commented to Martha to not be so anxious and take a closer look at Mary’s choice.
Mary’s choice should be a message to all of us. Mary rejoiced in being in the presence of Jesus. The gift of each other, for the sake of the other. In today’s gospel the angel that appeared in Joseph’s dream gave him a similar message to rejoice in Jesus making it clear in the meaning of Emmanuel that “God is with us”.
That is the message of Christmas, that each and every day should be Christmas to us, that the focus and attention of our lives is God among us. God so loved the world that He gave us His only begotten Son, today we celebrate his coming into the world.
We should not be overly worried about things being perfect regarding entertaining and feeding people, we should be focused on being present to all those we love and want to share our time with them. Where there is love, God is with us, for God is love itself.
Family traditions of food and activities are special and important and add to the holiday experience. They help instill loving memories that we cherish throughout our lives, but don’t get lost in making them the focus of the day and miss out on the joy of fellowship. God is with us, let’s not forget that personal relationships are most important, showing our love by being present to those around us.
Remember Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, we honor him through loving others. Let all those in your life feel the love of Christ emanate from you. Be the light of Christ today and every day of your lives. Live every day as Christmas day.
Have a very Merry Christmas!