Christmas is more than trappings

Are you ready?

This is the time of year when we start asking others, or may ourselves be asked: “Are you ready?”

And of course, we all know what it is that most of us are getting ready for at this time of year, don’t we.

People do all kinds of things, take part in a variety of activities, during the days, weeks, and even months that lead up to Christmas. Although the giving and exchanging of Christmas cards seems to have waned over the last few years, especially with the arrival and growth of the Internet, still, many people use this time of year to send a yearly greeting card to friends and family, some making sure that everyone be given all the latest information on who did what during the past year, who achieved what, and sometimes even who may be struggling a bit, “trying to find themselves.”

Our living space, whether it be a house or an apartment, usually undergoes some kind of transformation – from a minimum dusting and cleaning up to a complete overhaul and redecoration – that will normally include lights, wreaths and other decorations, and, of course, a tree.

Travel plans may be thought about and made. Special menus may be carefully considered. Arrangements may be made for guests.

And then of course, there’s the seemingly obligatory thinking about gifts to be gotten for a long list of people. This exercise usually requires a good deal of care and thought, time and energy, and of course, financial commitment.

Radio and television, the internet, as well as newspapers are all filled with extra advertising during the months leading up to Christmas, trying to ‘help’ us choose just the right gift for every person on our list.

The lead up to Christmas can be fun and exciting, especially if you are a child. However, for many who are no longer children, the lead up to Christmas can be an extremely tiring and stress-filled time. A time that drains many adults of a lot of energy, not to mention finances as well.

Many people will speak about late November and the weeks of December as the Christmas season, forgetting, or perhaps not being aware, that the Christmas season actually begins on December 25th and extends for 12 days (most of us have heard of the 12 days of Christmas), until January 6. For purists, this is when Christmas rightly ought to  be celebrated.

And why would purists celebrate Christmas from December 25 onwards? Because of what we remember and celebrate on that date – the birth of Jesus.

This year, as you go about making all the preparations that you’re accustomed to making, let me invite you to also take some time, even just a little time, to think about what Christmas is all about.

All the trappings that accompany Christmas – the festive get-togethers, the giving of greeting cards, the exchange of gifts –  are lovely. However, the central focus for Christmas is our remembering that God, the creator and maker of all, loves us so much that God chose to become one like us, in the form of a small and helpless infant, so that we could become more like God.

I invite you to take some time to think on this as you make your Christmas preparations.

Michael Pollesel is the Interim Priest-in-Charge at St. Nicholas Church, 1512 Kingston Rd.

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