We're pleased to re-publish some Guide to the Good favourite holiday articles from the past few years.
This story is by Reverend Miriam Bowlby of Cochrane Street United Church. It's a good reminder that even in pre-COVID times, there were challenges to overcome.
I’ve been feeling a little bit “grinchy” in the lead-up to this Christmas season. The list of the things that have to be done is long. For my work, this is the busiest time of year. Then there is the home front. There is a tree that is up but needs to be decorated. There are presents to buy and cookies to make and a house to clean and then decorate. This extensive list of what has to be done to be ready for Christmas is making me grumpy.
I think about going to the mall with the lineups and trying to find a parking spot and I wonder if I’m allowed to skip buying presents altogether this year. Then I worry about what my kids will think if there aren’t very many presents under our tree that still aren’t decorated. I want them to enjoy Christmas. I want them to feel that magic that seems to fill the air at this time of year. And every ad reminds us that Christmas is only about buying presents. They are quick to tell us where and how to buy those perfect gifts. We can rock Christmas at Walmart for $20 or less or outshine our siblings by going to Winners. But none of these things are really what Christmas is about.
Last Christmas, the things on my children’s Christmas wish list were things like iPhones and the impossible to get Hatchimals. We took a chance and bought nothing on their Christmas list. They had a great Christmas. Christmas is about more than gifts. My husband tells the story of the Christmas that he really wanted a particular board game. He got it for Christmas that year and was disappointed. After a while, he realized that what he really wanted was the picture in the TV ads of the family playing the game together. Christmas is about the time we spend together enjoying the lights or sitting by the tree. Christmas is about caring for the people in our community that need a little extra help or who find this time of year hard.
The first Christmas so long ago had nothing to do with presents and everything to do with the reminder that we meet God in the most unexpected places – like stables and babies. The last place you would expect to find God. The true joy of Christmas is knowing that unexpected and miraculous things can and do happen. The joy of Christmas is what makes the shepherds leave their fields to find a baby whose birth comes with the promise of peace and goodwill. Santa Claus echoes that same ancient hope of peace and goodwill in our world.
All around us people do amazing things to care for others. Whether it is filling Christmas hampers or giving time to make Christmas Dinner so that no one has to eat alone or making donations to charities that make a difference in people’s lives. It all helps spread that Christmas joy. There is hope for all of us who feel a little bit “grinchy” this Christmas
“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
And what happened then…?
Well … in Who-ville they say
That the Grinch’s small heart
Grew three sizes that day.”
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! By Dr. Seuss
As for me, I’m starting to find the joy again. I’m going to give gifts that help me spend time with the people that matter most to me. I’m going to worry less about that perfect tree and just be happy that it's up. If we don’t finish decorating until Christmas Eve, that’s okay. We still have the Twelve Days of Christmas to enjoy it. Maybe tonight we’ll go see the lights at Bowering Park and marvel at their beauty. On Christmas Eve, I’m going to make cookies for Santa and go to church to hear the story of the first Christmas and soak up the beauty of the music as we sing “Silent Night, Holy Night”. Christmas joy is all around us.
Miriam Bowlby is Minister at Cochrane Street United Church. She recently completed the Masters of Social Enterprise at Memorial. Miriam lives in Mount Pearl with her husband Scott and their two wonderful children Will and Carrie.
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