Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Christ in my Christmas

Every year around this time there's all this talk about putting the Christ back in Christmas. People are mortally offended by the term Happy Holidays. Fox news is upset about stores that refer to Holiday Sales, governors that have Holiday Trees. People are posting on Facebook about putting Christ back in Christmas. And then they turn around and send out cards with Santa on them.

Let's be frank here. Christians hijacked a pagan holiday and turned it into a religious holiday. Why are we so surprised that the pagans are taking it back? Relax. But still... I understand. I want Christmas in my home to be about the birth of Christ, too. That's what we choose to focus on.

What I'd like to say to all those Christians fighting the War on Christmas... START IN YOUR OWN HEARTS. In your own homes.

Start simple. Attend church every week. Replace your cute Santa cards with cards proclaiming peace and joy and the coming of the Prince of Peace. Cut back on presents to family and friends, and up your giving to charities.

Read the gospel stories of the birth of Jesus. Marvel at how Jesus came into this world in humble surroundings. Realize that the angels announced His birth to dirty, smelly shepherds, not the leaders of the temple. Understand that foreign sages came to find Him because He came to be the savior to ALL people. Mourn over the death of the innocents who were killed as Herod tried to eliminate any threat to his power. Know that God came to earth in the midst of our suffering and pain, and proclaimed peace and joy even still.

Step it up a notch. Honor Advent, a time to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ. Not just Christ as a cute baby, but the return of Christ. We are told to watch and wait. How do we watch and wait? How should we be prepared? We wait not by sitting and watching the sky or guessing when the end of the world will come or looking for signs of impending doom. We wait actively, living the life that Jesus told us to live. Loving one another. Feeding the hungry. Caring for the sick. Forgiving each other. Visiting the imprisoned. Sharing the good news of peace and love. Advent is a time to step back and take stock. We were given an amazing gift in Jesus, God incarnate. The best way to respond to that gift of love is to behave the way he told us to behave. What do you need to do, not just at Christmas but all the time, to be prepared?

You want to keep Christ in Christmas? Then kick Santa to the curb. Sure, Santa has some religious history. But St. Nicholas didn't give gifts to his children who already have over stuffed toy chests. He didn't give obligatory gifts to his sister in law and his son's teacher and the well to do neighbors. He secretly gave gifts to people in his community who needed HELP. His giving was not compulsory. It was from the heart. It was following the commands of Jesus. He didn't keep track, he didn't expect a gift in return. Imagine if parents took all that energy they put into keeping up the farce of Santa Claus and put it into teaching their children to love the way Jesus loved. How different our world would be with that one small change.

We do a lot in our house to try to keep the Christ in our Christmas. The May Queen has known from the start that Santa is fiction. Every night we light the Advent wreath and read from a book that tells the story of Christ's birth. Instead of giving gifts to our parents we give to a family in need in their honor. I've cut back on compulsory gift giving. The cards I send share the Christmas message of joy, peace and love that Christ brings.

But we still give gifts to each other. We give gifts to our daughter, who certainly doesn't need a thing. I feel guilty about not baking more, and stress about shopping and decorating and holiday parties and all the trappings that come with Christmas. We live in this world, in this time, and we get caught up in the Christmas that we are told we should have: a Christmas with presents under the tree and holiday goodies and gatherings and lights hanging from our eaves.

It's not up to stores or our government or Fox news to put the Christ back in Christmas. It's up to me. It's up to you. And putting the Christ back in Christmas has nothing to do with whether you say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, and everything to do with honoring why Christ was born. Christ came because God so LOVED the world. Put the Christ back into Christmas by LOVING the world. Do what you can to shine His light in your corner of the world this holiday season, not by fighting a war but by loving everyone. Even those who don't celebrate the holidays the way you think they should.

Jim Wallis of Sojourners has written a great article on the war on Christmas:
The Real War on Christmas... by Fox News

Monday, December 19, 2011

Meet Bianca

Our new kitty arrived on Sunday Dec 11. We had kicked around a few names before she arrived, and had mostly settled on Bianca (a character from The Taming of the Shrew. We liked the name, and naming a black cat "white"). We we met her, the name worked, and Bianca she is.She is playful. And cuddly. She tolerates being toted everywhere by the May Queen. She settles down on my husband's lap to watch football. She's a champion at purring. Even the other cats have stopped hissing at her. Marlowe seems to be enjoying having a playmate.Everyone is quite smitten with this kitten.How could you not be?