As you are reading this blog entry, the Christmas wrapping is most likely still scattered on the floor, or for you “tidy-up” types the wrapping paper has been recycled and gifts appropriately put away. Meanwhile, retailers are stocking their shelves with Valentine merchandise.
So, we distinguish between the “business” of Christmas and the Mystery of Christmas – two different experiences, both valid. I know the business and busyness of Christmas can run you ragged but there is an energy, a synergy swirling out there as well.
And kindness and generosity, and surprise and wonder and JOY amidst the traffic snarls and extended check-out lines.
I have never been a “things” person. I am not big on gifts for myself although I enjoy giving gifts if I can think of something appropriate. I do not give gifts out of demand. Some years I can think of a gift to give my husband or our sons. Other years, I can’t. Our grandchildren receive birthday presents from us in late fall so their parents ask that we not give them Christmas presents. Their maternal grandparents cover that. As you step away from the “have to’s” of the Season you are free to explore and savor the gentle mystery and creativity of Christmas.
Below are a few of the ways I see the mystery, creativity and generosity unfolding at Christmas time.
Each year, I read the articles about the 100 Neediest Families in our local newspaper. While I am often overwhelmed with the plight of the family being featured, I am also in awe of the creativity of the high school students who provide the artwork that accompany these articles. These young artists are sharing their time and talents, and in doing so, expanding their world to encounter the poor and inviting us to remember those who have so much less than we do.
The USMC, who for decades has been sponsoring the Toys for Tots program, inviting families and individuals to share some toys with those families who do not have funds to purchase them taps a generous spirit that allows us to become aware of what a significant number of our citizenry work below a living wage.
Cookie-baking: for some families gathering to bake cookies is a time to be together; many people bake cookies and share them with folks who live alone and who rarely get a homemade cookie. Such a simple activity which can bring joy to so many.
I love greeting cards. At Christmas I enjoy receiving cards that have been purchased to support non-profit organizations from all over the country. Children’s Hospitals, Botanical Gardens; UNICEF; Centers for Moms and Kids, to name a few. Another opportunity for generosity and stepping out of our own little world.
In some ways, Santa truly is real. Santa jets around the world led by reindeer with a few drones tossed in sprinkling good will, and kindness and generosity and creativity trusting that it will fall upon us and we, Santa’s helpers, will spread its magic and mystery. Savor the mystery of Christmas and like the Grinch, may our hearts grow three sizes this season. Cherish the spirit of Christmas this week and leave the Valentines until next month.