We are well into the holiday season, past Thanksgiving (which seems forever ago), heading into Christmas. The countdown is on, there’s not enough time, there’s so much to do. But wait, we do want to slow down and enjoy the season, right?
But what is the reason for the season? It may really vary, depending on a person’s views on religion and faith. Have you taken the time to consider why you do what you do at this time of year? Thinking it through may well help you streamline, and remove some stress.
If you have children at home, your first answer is probably “I want to make Christmas special for my kids”. It can get really easy to slide from wanting to make it special to frantically buying too many things, making for an overwhelming holiday morning where nothing really stands out. This is where asking yourself “What’s my reason for this season?” can really help.
If you come from a fairly secular, non-religious place, or if you are Jewish but still like to celebrate Christmas, your reason may be something like “this is a time to think of others, to give rather than receive, to help the less fortunate” simply because it is Christmas time. So wouldn’t it be great to make some space with your kids to participate in a “Giving Tree” or an “Adopt a Family” program, and involve them in picking out gifts for these other people? Of course they will still receive their gifts under the tree on Christmas, but just adding that ritual in the days before Christmas can really shift the feeling.
If you come from a traditional Christian background, then naturally you will be teaching your children that we are celebrating the birth of Jesus as the reason for the season. You can certainly do all of what’s mentioned above, with the added idea of “who is this Santa Claus, and how does he fit in with Jesus?” Santa Claus is the “nickname” for St. Nicholas, a real person who lived in present-day Turkey and died December 6 343, and had reputation for helping people, often in secret. I told my children that Jesus’ birth was so special that Heaven and Earth celebrated that night, and ever since we have celebrated by giving each other presents as a way of honoring and celebrating Jesus. And Saint Nicholas, known as Santa Claus, is Jesus’ helper, helping us celebrate that day.
I liked that way of weaving together the Christian Christmas story with Saint Nicholas especially because it removed that whole question that some people raise of “am I lying to my child by telling him or her about Santa?”. No, because as they grew it was easy to transition from Santa who came down the chimney to Saint Nicholas who helped people during his life, and whose example we follow now to celebrate Christmas.
Now that my children are grown my sense of what’s important continues to evolve, and that probably needs to wait for another post. Suffice it to say that while I still like to exchange a few gifts, I’m very aware that we all have more than what we need, and that material things are worth far less than time with loved ones, on Christmas as well as throughout the year.
I hope these thoughts serve as a springboard to help you figure out what your “reason for the season”. And in the meantime, Merry Christmas and best wishes for a Happy New Year!