Christmas is Coming ~ and I feel like a little child

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My bins are Christmas green.

Thanksgiving Day is gone, though thanksgiving continues as a way of life for me. So, now I’m thankful that Christmas is coming. For me the day after Thanksgiving is the “official start of the Christmas season” which doesn’t end on December 26th. No, I also celebrate the 12-Days of Christmas and end the season on December 6th with Epiphany.

In my house, the day after Thanksgiving is the day for taking out my large plastic “Christmas bins.”

This year I did some research and I found out surveys show that people who celebrate Christmas early tend to be happy people. All I know on a personal level is that I feel great when I jump into the Christmas season with both feet.

Isaiah 9:6For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. ~ New American Standard Bible [NASB]

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My baker’s rack in happy disarray as I put away “year round” object ‘d art and start putting up the Christmas stuff.

My feeling is that “Christmasy people” enjoy the “Light” the season brings. Even the non religious feel the light piercing the darkness and they like it. I don’t decry the  overabundance of lights on houses as commercialism. Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph don’t upset me. I know Santa Claus isn’t the baby Jesus. I also know the real St. Nicholas was a Christian bishop who gave gifts to the poor. I don’t mistake my Santa figurines as “the reason for the season.” Not for one second. But Santa does make me smile. Still, I know if there had never been a Jesus, there would not have been a Santa Claus.

I love to see smiles breaking out on the faces of children when they sit on Santa’s lap. Too often our children are fretful, feeling the anxiety and weight of the world in this angry time. Laughing when they see Frosty or Rudolph is a welcome break. It’s the Light breaking through the darkness. It’s children being allowed to be children, even for a short time. It’s the joy of the season breaking out. It can’t be contained. Darkness can’t hold it back.

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Turkey chili sustains me as I decorate.

I’m a firm believer that you can’t decorate on an empty stomach.

It is up to the church to tell the story of the baby Jesus. If we tell the age-old glorious story, they will listen. We must tell them.

The Birth of Jesus ~ ~ Luke 2 ~ New Living Translation [NLT]

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

The Shepherds and Angels

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

 

Spending Christmas with Cranky Uncle Fred ~ a lesson in patience and poise

Horse Drawn Sleigh

 

You know how it goes in families at Christmas. Last year everyone came to your house….all the aunts and uncles with their kids, and someone brought grandma. Well, this year it’s going to be at Cranky Uncle Fred’s house.

You can just hear your kids singing in the back seat as you drive through poorly plowed snow covered streets and across ribbons of icy roads: “Over the river and through the woods to Cranky Uncle Fred’s house we go. The horse know the way…”

The thought of how it will go once you get there is driving  you nuts. Sending up a prayer helps, but then your mind runs right over a cliff again. It’s not only Cranky Uncle Frank who has you worried. He’s actually the least of it. Your sister’s new husband drinks too much and you really don’t want your kids to see him drunk on Jesus’ birthday. And cousin Marcy has a real bad habit of talking in detail about her love life, which as far as you can tell has very little to do with love. Another thing you’re not thrilled about exposing your kids to. This brigs your unbridled mind to another musical reference, almost against your will…the infamous country western Christmas song by Robert Earl Keene, “Merry Christmas from the Family.”

After giving yourself yet another good talking to, you admit the only one you should have high expectations of is yourself. And it goes without saying, you should be all prayed up. If your family isn’t a Norman Rockwell portrait, don’t have your Christmas happiness depend upon them acting as if they are. Accept them with all their faults, and some of your kin might have many.

Focus on the people there you love to be with, and don’t put yourself down if you don’t love to be with all of them. Make sure you get lots of time with the people there who thrill you. If you know Aunt Edna’s  social, political, and theological views are going to drive you insane, try to direct conversation to something neutral. Have a mental list of topics all prepared. Praising how good the food is will make everyone who prepared a dish feel all warm and fuzzy inside and good feelings often can spread to others. Above all, avoid strife. Pull out the old stand-by, “Let’s agree to disagree.”

If someone at the table is trying to stick to their diet, encourage them to do so and praise them for their effort. Don’t pass the coconut cake, followed by the pecan pie past Cousin Latrice, who is diabetic.

Okay, so let’s talk about alcohol. Someone who drinks too much can not only wreck the entire family Christmas celebration, but can kill themselves and others if they drive. It does absolutely no good too confront the individual, calling him/her an alcoholic. This is Christmas with the family, not a therapeutic intervention. Even if it seems impolite or not your place, it is perfectly acceptable to remove the alcohol, even pour it down the drain if necessary. Do it as inconspicuously as possible, but it’s far better to get rid of the booze than to face a tragedy later. If this is a serous recurring problem with one family member, the other members of the family might decide to have an alcohol-free Christmas. It might be the best Christmas you’ve had in years.

Try to do your part in the family celebration. If tradition is important in your family, go with the flow. Relax, then relax some more. Look for the joy in the celebration. Find something to smile about, laugh about. Delight in the Children. Christmas is magical to them. Catch the feeling from them. And above all, remember the reason for the season, the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Luke 2:9-11 King James Version (KJV)

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Nativity