What a wonderful time of year to remember and reflect.
For some it is a season of stress. Deadlines looming. Expectations crushing in. Disappointments highlighted.
For some it is a season of hope. A Savior was born. Family and friends share meals and fellowship. Joy and love ignited.
So, as I move into the waters of remembering Christmases gone by, I expect a mixture of emotions. And overall, I would say this season is a season of HOPE. A time to remember the good that is still surrounding me in this crazy and mixed up world today. Some complain about all the lights, tinsel, and songs that inundate us in this season. For me, I enjoy the festive mood that this brings. It reminds me to celebrate life and all its goodness.
Now as an expat, I try to find the stores that have taken on the Western culture of decorating for the season. I decorate my home, even though in a more modest way these days. And I love hearing the Christmas carols that speak of the true meaning of Christmas as I walk through shopping centers. I love this especially in countries known for religions that are not Christ centered. This brings a memory to mind, being in a mall in Thailand (known for their Buddhist worship) and hearing What Child is This playing.
What other memories come?...............
I think of the Christmas mornings as a young child waking up to the smell of oranges and other fruit in our home. It was a time that our stockings and home were filled with apples, oranges, mixed nuts, and of course candy! Then there were the presents. They were always a highlight under the Christmas tree. AND along with the gifts came time with family and fun together. I love remembering the talks around the table and the happy greetings as family members streamed into the house to celebrate this very special day together. I also love remembering cooking special dishes with my mom. And I remember change.
As I moved through life, Christmas changed. Christmas brought traveling and some years Christmas brought slower and smaller family gatherings as I snuggled into my own home and family traditions with my children. Christmas also brought struggles as I sorted through priorities in the season. Sometimes we had to decide to travel or not to travel. Sometimes we had to decide to make Christmas giving more modest than others to avoid debt. And in the midst of it all, I remember learning to love and to give what was in our hands to give. Sometimes the gift was a phone call to say, “Merry Christmas” and give wishes of love. Sometimes the gift was the gift of self to travel and spend moments together with extended family. Sometimes the gift was to open our home to others outside of our family to welcome them in for a day of celebrating and love.
As I reflect, I think of this question that has probably haunted me at times…"What is the right thing to do at Christmas?” Well, is there really a right or wrong? I would say the foremost thing is to remember what the day is all about CHRISTmas. It is also a day that family can gather together and create memories and family culture. But even more than that, to honor CHRIST in Christmas is the highest form of celebrating. The greatest way to bring honor to this day is to show love. Love can be expressed in so many ways! The number one way I think of is, Forgiveness. Who can you give the gift of FORGIVENESS to this Christmas season? I believe that would be the highest level of celebrating Christmas for this season and every season.
John and Cindy write about their adventures, observations, and other nuggets from living in another nation. Their residence is in SE Asia.