I always think it's lovely as people sing about holidays, plan holidays and share how excited they are about an upcoming holiday. We read about their recipes, their family, and their long time traditions. The magazine photos get everyone enthusiastic about the way the holiday is going to happen.
Our family used to have traditions. We valued them and looked forward to all the fun we were going to have. It worked for several years.
Then a new tradition appeared. Somewhere between autumn and the holidays, a family member would either die or get killed. Seriously, it became a family joke. As the holidays approached, one of the kids would remark, "I wonder who's going to die this year."
Oh yeah, you knew that some family member would die just in time to screw up the holidays. After all, it was a family tradition.
That brings to mind the one whose birthday is being celebrated on Christmas. Even though Jesus was really born more towards the springtime, people have chosen to acknowledge his birth on December 25.
We put up sparkly trees. We bake cookies and have parties. We drink loads of cocktails. We buy expensive toys for ourselves, going into more debt. We run over each other on black Friday and punch the old lady next to us.
WHEEE! Look Jesus, I just put a dollar in that bell-ringer's kettle." Now I feel all warm and fuzzy because I've made someone else's holiday brighter. As we walk by, we don't see the little boy and girl sitting on the curb, huddled together because they don't have coats and they're freezing. They see us though and they're wondering what the fuss is all about.
As we sing "Santa Clause is coming to town if you're good you' ll get toys", they wonder what they've done so bad that he never leaves them anything. This is their family tradition. If they're lucky, someone will give them food so they can eat on Christmas. They won't have enough food the rest of the year, but "bless them Jesus. Amen".
I wonder if our perception of the holidays would change if we took a week off from our materialistic crap, and slept outside on a piece of cardboard or in a cardboard box with nothing but a blanket. One night would put a stop to that, but some Americans are having to do that every single night. If they're lucky, they might find a shelter. But, alas, most of the shelters are suffering from lack of donations.
WHEEE! "Guess what I just did for you, Jesus. I just gave another dollar. Amen."
"What? Okay. I just added another dollar to help the poor, Jesus. Amen."
Our local Department of human services is not having their angel tree this year. Maybe they just can't take care of all the hurting children.
You say you don't know any children like that? Ask a teacher, a social worker, a pastor. Watch the news. Did someone's house burn down? Do unto others as YOU would like for them to do for YOU if you were in that situation.
If you know someone trying to get through their first holiday season after losing their spouse, please help them through it. That first holiday season after a tragedy is a case of forced fun at best. You just want it to all go away. If they have always had family traditions, they just went out the window.
Fill up a Christmas stocking with fruit and give it to a widow who is alone at Christmas. Surprise some kids with nice presents. Invite someone who's homeless for Christmas dinner and make sure to give them a present to open. IF YOU WANT TO BE BLESSED, BE A BLESSING THIS CHRISTMAS!
Matthew 25: 43-45
Jesus said "I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not."
Then shall they also answer him, saying, "Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?"
Then shall he answer them, saying, "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me."