Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Spirit of Christmas

I had so many things to do tonight. I stayed late at school, got home, had to do laundry, make supper, work on lesson plans and try to find time to put up my Christmas tree. I was thinking of just not doing a tree this year, but Josh was insistent. And then I thought of putting it off until Sunday when I might have more time, but he seemed to really want it up tonight. So I relented. And I'm glad. There's nothing like getting a tree up and hanging the stockings to really put one in the Christmas spirit. I've been so caught up in all the other things in life that I've not been thinking about the real meaning of the season of Advent and Christmas. Actually, I admit that I haven't been thinking much of it for many years now. It's not that I didn't care that it was the celebration of the birth of Christ, but it's one of those things where you've distanced yourself from something for such a long time that you can't or won't really focus on it. For me it meant time off from work, making or buying gifts for people, and spending time with family. Church wasn't much in my thoughts although last year Josh and I played a clarinet duet for the Baptism of the child of my cousin. But this year already seems different. Sure, I've got to slow down enough to really focus on it, but I think it is going to be more special because I am going to celebrate it in the Catholic Church.
So despite the fact that I didn't get my lesson plans done, I'm happy that my tree is up and that I'm thinking of what this time of year should really be about. In RCIA class last week, we received a pamphlet about celebrating Christmas as a Catholic. There were a few ideas in it that I thought I'd share with you.
1. Go to Mass - It is a time to celebrate God's gift of Jesus, our savior. Although I cannot participate in the Eucharist as it mentions, I still think attending Christmas Mass will be a very special occasion. This year I may even get to play my clarinet again. We have a new choir director that mentioned an interest in instrumentalists. So I told her that I played the clarinet and perhaps I'll get to praise God through music.
2. Set up a Nativity Scene - This is something that I want to do at some point, but I don't have a one yet. I've looked here and there, but haven't found one. Some aren't just what I'm looking for and others are simply too expensive. Perhaps I'll start out simple and try to add to it each year perhaps.
3. Raise the Christmas tree - Well, we accomplished that tonight. And I do love my tree. It isn't fancy, but I've been collecting ornaments for about 15 years now. My tree has a music theme and just about all the ornaments on it are music related. Music is one of my passions and I love putting all the ornaments on the tree each year. A few years ago, I bought a mechanical Looney Tunes band that sits in the tree and actually plays music.
4. Let Lights Shine - I guess I haven't thought about candles much in my decorations, but it does make sense. I don't have an advent wreath, but perhaps that is another thing I can look to add to my Christmas decorations.
5. Exchange gifts - Most years, I try to really give from the heart. I try to make as many gifts as I can personal. Whether I make them myself or simply find something that will truly bring joy to the person I give it to. And for some reason, although I am usually on a limited budget, somehow during Christmas, I find myself with money. Last year, it was a surprise child support check. The year before, it was a generous Christmas bonus from my boss. One year, it was a refund for an insurance claim on my car. And if it doesn't happen this year, I'll manage.
6. Share a feast - If there's one thing you should know about me, I love food. Although I may be a picky eater, I still love to eat. But I also love to cook. Sharing a feast with the family has been a tradition that will always continue with us. This time of year makes me a little sad as I remember my mom's cinnamon rolls she would make Christmas morning and the amazing meal for Christmas dinner. She was a great chef. But it is also good to know that she is perhaps celebrating with all the Saints in Heaven.
So as you deal with the hustle and bustle of Christmas, enjoy the season and continue those traditions that make it special. This is a time of celebration so share it with those you love and those who are less fortunate. Remember the blessings you have; and finally, take a moment to remember the greatest gift that God gave us, Christ our Lord.

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