How We’re Learning
By Muriel Gregory
Treasure the Season
We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.
Noel. I have many good memories running through my head. The word itself evokes hot chocolate with marshmallows, cookies eaten straight out of the oven, and meals shared with friends and family.
Noel. I remember the many noels spent in France at my grandmother’s house. The whole gang of cousins would be together. It was wild and joyful. I remember going to midnight mass with my grandmother. One of my favorite Christmas memories is lighting everybody’s candle in the church.
Noel. I remember our Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree one year. We were PCSing from Germany and none of our household goods had arrived. We managed to find a scrawny tree. We had fun decorating it with popcorn garlands and homemade paper ornaments. Not the prettiest tree but by far one of my favorite.
Noel. I recall the laughter, the smiles of our children when they ran to the tree on Christmas morning. Great is the joy of having everybody under one roof now that my children are grown. I remember the warmth, the joy, the peace of the season.
Christmas has its share of irritations too. We strive to have the perfect tree, perfect cookies, perfect decorations, perfect party. Christmas can be tense, when your to-do list is longer than the hours you have in a day. Christmas can be a strain, when a loved one has passed recently. Christmas can also be a stressful time, when your spouse is deployed or when you find yourself in a faraway land.
Think about your favorite memories of Christmas. What comes to mind? What did you enjoy as a child? What do you treasure now as an adult?
We have the ability to complicate things and overlook what matters most. The best memories of Christmas are rarely tied to a perfect tree or perfectly decorated house. I venture to guess that your favorite memories are centered around people and simple activities you engaged in with them.
Remove the pressure of perfection. Bask in the simple pleasures that will become your treasure.
But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
Luke 2:19 (ESV)
Our Savior was born in a manger. The first to welcome God in the flesh were shepherds. The setting was as simple and humble as can be. Yet the sacredness of the moment was rung by the voice of the angels.
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.”
Luke 2:14 (ESV)
God made His entrance among us in the most unadorned way. His bed was undecorated. His surroundings were unembellished. Yet the moment was magical and Mary captured that. She treasured every second, every visitor, every smile from her infant boy and pondered them in her heart.
When we try to recapture the spirit of Christmas, we must recall the first noel. The simplicity yet sacredness of the moment. We must spend time with the baby in the manger.
Only He can make true the Christmas spirit. It is not found in the gifts exchanged and the amazing decorations. Do not waste celebrating Christmas this year by never connecting it to the reason for it.
How to Treasure the Season:
- Simplify your life by allowing your kids to help you make cookies. They won’t be perfect but the memories will be priceless (Psalm 127:3).
- Share a cup of hot cocoa with a neighbor; share life, share joy. A moment of true fellowship beats most Christmas parties (Mark 12:31).
- Read the Christmas story as a family or with friends. Ponder the incredible gift that was wrapped in swaddling cloths. It outshines all the gifts under the tree (Psalm 119:11).
- Share a meal with a friend (or two).
May your heart’s desire this Christmas be to allow His light to shine brighter than all the Christmas lights.
May your yearning be to feel closer to Him by sharing a meal with a friend.
May your joy be complete, because you know the Christ of Christmas.
I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
How will you simplify your life this season?
How will you keep Christ as the centerpiece of your celebrations?
Father, thank you for sending your Son in such a simple and humble manner. Please help us remember to keep You the center of our celebration this month. May we never remove the Christ in Christmas. Amen.