Here are several things I observe about this time of year:
* You will be ridden with guilt if you break tradition. So bake that 10 dozen of cookies, make that fudge, buy those presents, decorate that tree, spend days and weeks and even months 'preparing' for the big day. Tradition rules!
* It's a circus out there. Do you're shopping early or do it online. People can be mean. They'd just as soon throw you to the curb as to look at you -- especially if you are in their way. Know when the light will turn green so you can gas it immediately to prevent the fellow or gal in back of you from laying on the horn! All of the lions are not in the literal circus, believe you me!
* Political correctness rules. Everyone is sensitive so think about what you say beforehand. Here's the thing. From what I have learned, Christ's birth is not on December 25. It is a date that was chosen to celebrate His birth and I'm good with that. Many celebrate the 'holiday' more than the 'birth day', the receiving of gifts over the receiving of 'the greatest gift of all', and the traditions of man rather than the Spirit of the season, anyway. If someone ridicules you for using the abbreiviated version Xmas, do not dismay, God knows your heart. I used to use that abbreviated version all the time - that is before I realized I could be offending other Christians. But political correctness does not stop there, it's alive to the left and also to the right if ya know what I mean. Honestly, sometimes I'm afraid to speak. We all need to chill out, don't ya think? Some of the sweetest, nicest, kindest people I know do not agree with me on many things. Let's get over the politics and stop judging others. That's God's job.
* The spirit of giving has become this: being shamed into it by cashiers.
It used to be that there was one Shame King and that was the bell ringer outside of Woolworths where we'd throw our quarter in the bowl and walk away feeling pretty darn good about ourselves. I walk into the department store now and I am asked if I want to give to St. Judes. "I give monthly," I say. Next stop, fast food. Do I want to give a dollar to feed hungry kids? I already feed hungry kids. My heart's fulfillment in donating throughout the year means nothing now. I feel like a heel because I won't feed hungry kids. *sigh* Shame on me.
* Jesus is not the reason for the season.
Oh, everyone says it is. But most actions speak opposite. That's all I have to say about that.
* We are expected to be joyful. Period.
I have deep empathy for those who fail to feel that joy. With laughter and chit-chat and holiday cheer going on around you, sometimes it's hard to grasp that feeling of euphoria associated with this time of year. It can be an emptiness felt from an absent loved one or just the sadness of how materialistic and self centered our celebration of Jesus birth has become. Regardless, depressed individuals can fall into deeper depression witnessing the outpouring of joy that surrounds them when all they want to do is get through the holiday and have things back to normal. AND --- I feel sympathetic to those delivery drivers this time of year. They are ridiculed, rushed and taken for granted all in the name of MATERIALISM. Sadly, I have heard a story in the past of a pastor who become short and temperamental when things didn't go as planned with a delivery. Simple acts of this kind can cause an adverse affect when trying to reach others for Christ. Just saying. Be joyful but first, be kind. I believe in that old adage, fake it till you make it. It really does work! Oh, and while practicing the joy thing, be helpful to those who seem to be struggling.
Okay, I think I've rattled on long enough. I've made all my cookies and decorated the house. The gifts are bought and wrapped. After this week, I will close my office for the year and enjoy family. And then, 2019 will come and I will start off with resolutions and goals and hope for another great year. And in truth -- I will know it will be great -- because God's love surrounds me. During the good and the bad of life, it's His love that sustains me. I am humbled and thankful for His never giving up on me, and on this joyous time of year and remembrance of God's greatest gift of a Savior, I thank HIM for that greatest gift of all.
Note: Below, this years nativity. I tried to add a little pizazz ... lol. Disclaimer: These are only statues. symbols. material objects. The real meaning of Christmas is found in the heart. It's a Spirit thing.
Hope this plays okay.