As I write this, Thanksgiving is approaching. We’re quickly entering the Holiday season. I am one
who will say “happy holidays” during this time, reserving “Merry Christmas” for the week of
Christmas. I am not offended, nor do I think Jesus would be offended by anyone using this rather
than “Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Merry Christmas, Happy Boxing
Day and Happy New Year!” There are so many things to stress us out at this time of the year, that I
encourage you to let this one go! Another one to let go is being upset about those using the phrase
‘X-mas’. Xmas (also X-mas) is a common abbreviation of the word Christmas. … The “X” comes
from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of the Greek word Christós (Χριστός), which
became Christ in English. The suffix -mas is from the Latin-derived Old English word for Mass.
One of the other common phrases used during this time of year is “Put Christ back in Christmas”. I
think that would be wonderful and would take most of the stress of the season away from us. Even
though we’re taught that the wise men brought Christ gifts, they didn’t max out their charge card
buying them. I’ve read about the three gift rule that is based on the story of the wise men. Three
gifts are given to each child, a gift that they really want, something they need and something to read. One of my nieces gives her children one less gift than she used to (she doesn’t practice the 3 gift rule) and gives them the money that gift would cost. She then takes them shopping for a child who is in need. One of the best things about this is that the kids can’t let those receiving the gifts know that they are the giver. I love this. She has also asked family to give the kids the gift of a memory rather than toys. Last year we took them to see Daniel Tiger. We took them on a train ride, we’ve been to Sky Zone. It’s kind of feels like cheating though, because we enjoy the time as much as they. We often make ourselves crazy and broke (maybe crazy-broke) buying gifts for way too many people and spending more money than we can afford. At some point, we end up buying something to just be sure we have a gift to give. Can you remember the gifts you received for last Christmas? The Christmas before? Ask your children, other family members and friends the same question. Second to the marriage proposal I received from John years back, the gift that sticks in my heart and mind was from a youth here at CUMC who made a donation in my name to an organization who dug wells in areas where clean drinking water wasn’t available. And an apron from the youth group that had “Social Hazard” and “Give peas a chance” painted on the front that they had made.
We also set ourselves up when we have the idea that this year, everything will be perfect. Uncle Bob won’t drink so much, nobody will discuss politics or everyone will agree, the food will be delicious and plentiful. We can eat until we’re miserable and not gain an ounce. Free yourself from these expectations. Family and friends are going to be who they are, and you’ll feel better if you be who you are too. Christmas calories still count. Just breathe. Pray. Remember Jesus and think of the best way to celebrate the reality of our God putting on flesh and coming to us at a time in history that lacked indoor plumbing and electricity, to a teenaged bride who had to explain the whole thing to her fiancé, had to flee into Egypt as a refugee, then back home to a country occupied by an invading force. Our God came to us as a baby, the most vulnerable of humans, dependent on others for being fed, cleansed, having his diaper changed, everything!
How do we best celebrate that?
Christy Friedel, R.N.,
Parish Nurse, Spiritual Director