Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas without Presents???

Life is as busy crazy as ever... The thoughts entered my mind that I wished I had gotten ready for Christmas early this year, because Christmas is fast approaching, and I didn't feel one bit ready.

I mean... I did decorate the tree the first couple of days in December. I wrote a couple of blog posts... one about my philosophy on the nature of traditions, and one about some of the things our family has done traditionally during the Christmas season. I did read the Christmas story with my family, as found throughout the scriptures, and we did some other cool Christmas things (bake cookies, have a youth Christmas party etc); however, time continued to go by without shopping, or gift making...

I knew the season was not is not over, so we still have time to carry out more of our traditions. But in the back of my mind I kept thinking about how unready I still may end up being for Christmas despite carrying out our traditions. Why did I feel this way? I suppose it had something to do with not having done a bunch of shopping or gift making yet. I wondered if and when I would get around to these seemingly vital ingredients of Christmas. Then I found myself asking myself... "What is it exactly that I am getting ready for?" Shopping? Opening presents? Is this what Christmas is about???

We all know the story of The Grinch who Stole Christmas, and of how Christmas came "without presents, packages or bows." And many of us have experienced it. I know I have. But even after it happens, do we believe it can happen again? And what about having too many gifts? Can Christmas get lost in too many gifts and make it difficult to find the true meaning of Christmas? Do we allow ourselves to feel the true meaning of Christmas, or do we think that Christmas is lost without that great climax of presents under the tree? Do we get a little down if we think these ingredients are lacking in our celebration of, the, uh, you know... baby Jesus?
I know I did. It's silly, really! But without extra money for gifts or even materials to make gifts, I went through a couple of days in which I felt a little sorry for myself. I know this wasn't good, or even necessary. In fact, something really good came of NOT having money to shop with; I took the time I might have spent shopping to relax and read a couple great books: The Gift by Richard Paul Evans; and The Seventeen Second Miracle by Jason F. Wright. Soon I will be reading with my family Jacob Marley (Thank you Kendra!!!) and if the Library has it, The Mansion; I'm so excited! :D

The last couple chapters of the Seventeen Second Miracles were the icing on the cake that got my head turned around a little closer to where it ought to be. As I contemplated the inspiring message in these books, to give love, and go LIVE LIFE doing small random acts of kindness, even so small that they may take no longer than 17 seconds, I realized - I'm not GETTING READY for Christmas ~ The production is NOW. And how well I play my part depends upon how well I catch the true meaning of Christmas!

"Christmas" can already be happening, every minute of every day..."Christmas day" is simply a REMINDER of Christ's birth (something which already happened... no need to prepare for it), and a reminder of the opportunities of selfless acts of kindness which we have each and every day . . . all because of the life and gifts that Christ came into the world to give TO US.

We traditionally give gifts - not just because of the gifts that the wise men gave to Jesus... but more importantly because of the gifts that Jesus Christ gave to us; The Atonement, freedom to repent and make our lives better, and endless examples of how we can live with forgiveness, kindness, mercy, love... (I think I may ditch the tradition of giving my kids 3 gifts in remembrance of the wise men's gifts; I'd rather we focus on giving countless gifts to others as Christ has given countless gifts to us - even daily. I don't know; this may be a good tradition still, even if one or more of the three gifts are non-material...)

When I read to my kids or spend time with them doing what they love to do, I'm not getting ready for Christmas - I'm living the spirit of Christmas. When I visit the lonely or help someone who is sick - I'm living the spirit of Christmas. If I say a few kind words to someone, or lend a helping hand - I'm living the spirit of Christmas.

For those of you who must celebrate Christmas without the means of giving monetary gifts ~ I tell you this... If Christ's completely intangible gifts to us are the greatest gifts of all, then why should we feel that our gifts are somehow inadequate simply because they can not be placed in a box and under a tree? Upon careful reflection, I think we will all agree - the greatest gifts of all can not be touched with the hands or seen with the physical eyes; they are felt with our hearts...

And so, with what ever time is left of this season, this year, and of this life of mine, I hope to start performing many more 17 second miracles of my own. And I know this is how I will be blessed to feel Christmas all year long! :)

A new and solid tradition that I will now have is to participate each December in the "12 Days of Service..." And to make a greater effort to serve wherever and whenever I can, each and every day of my life throughout the years. I'm glad this bug is contagious, I'm glad I caught it, and I hope that if you haven't caught it yet - you will too! ;)

May each day of our lives be filled with the spirit of Christmas!!!!

Merry Christmas!

Corine :D

PS. I give you the Karaoke version because this is the one my daughter and I sing to together... :) Merry Christmas! :D

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