Suggestions for a more meaningful Christmas

Over at LifeTeen.com, Mark Hart (aka Bible Geek) offers us some useful suggestions for how to make the graces received during the Christmas season have a lasting effect on our daily lives once the season of Christmas is over.

LIFE TEEN Presents "Spread the Word"


'Tis the Season!?!

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…” - Ecclesiastes 3:1

Situation Explained
Ready for Christmas? Ready for Christmas to be over?
How do you keep Christmas going?

Solution Offered
It’s
a familiar sight: boxes torn open, bellies full of food, trash cans
overflowing and wrapping paper flung aimlessly about while children
unleash a sugar fit and parents enter into a sleep-deprived food coma.

Christmas is not a day, it’s a season
It’s
Christmas night. Families have squeezed into overstuffed pews,
encountered the Lord of the universe in the Sacrament(s) and returned
home with “Silent Night” engrained in their heads. Santa
has come. Relatives have joined together and departed (or fallen
asleep) and all that work of shopping and wrapping, cooking and cleaning came to fruition. Christmas is over – says the world.

Christmas is just beginning, however, says the Catholic Church.
Christmas
is not a day, it’s a season. We don’t just celebrate
Christ’s coming over a 24-hour period, but for days –
weeks, even.

So, how do we avoid falling into that trap of
cleaning up and counting down the 364 days until the next organized
melee of celebration?

Here’s a few suggestions:

First, be present
to the holy days (holidays). Pay attention to the people around you.
Ask them questions. Find out how they are and what they need prayers
for this year. Listen to stories, even if you’ve heard them a
thousand times before. Be thankful for the mere opportunity you have
with your family and loved ones, you never know how many more
Christmases you (or they) will have, just as Christ reminds us in
scripture: “no one knows the hour.” (Matt. 24:36)

Next, make the Christmas Mass primary
for yourself (and hopefully for your family). Encourage your family to
start getting ready even earlier and leave plenty of time to get the
Church ahead. Stress, tardiness, parking and overcrowding lead to
frustration during what should be a joyous liturgy. Enter into the
Mass, fully, and offer a joyful example for all to see.

Third, don’t even dish up the food or sit down to eat until everyone has taken a few minutes in meaningful prayer before the meal(s).
Now, this looks different from household to household. If your family
doesn’t pray, be bold and initiate it. If your family always
prays, go deeper – make it even more meaningful. Doesn’t
God deserve better than a “quick prayer” before we start
shoveling food? After all, He’s the reason we’re having a
party. Keep up this practice each night before dinner.

Next, practice being patient
each and every day, one situation at a time. Possibly carry your rosary
in your pocket, wear your cross more prominently or do something else
visual and visible that will act as a reminder to you to be like Christ
to people who annoy you. You, my brothers and sisters, make
Christ’s name more holy or less holy to the world, through your
actions.

Fifth, with every tear of the wrapping paper and while cleaning up every box and gift bag, remind yourself
of those who are without this year. Many will not open any presents, or
eat any food. Many are alone this holiday season. Be thankful for each
and every gift you receive (even the tube socks, calendar, ugly sweater
or bad tie).

Sixth, at the end of Christmas day, go to bed extra early,
and spend some time in prayer thanking God for not only the physical
gifts you received, but for the gifts we often don’t thank Him
for, like your sight, your hearing, your mobility, your health, your
clothing, food, etc. Keep up that early-to-bed practice for at least a
week – it only takes a couple weeks for something to become a
habit.

Lastly, begin a list on Christmas, and spend the
following week until the holy day on January 1st (The Solemnity of
Mary) adding to it. On the list, write down concrete, practical ways
that you are going to use your gifts to proclaim Christ’s love
and His mercy this next year. Make these your primary “New
Year’s” fesolutions.

These are just a few ideas, but
they can easily become simple things that bear great fruit in your
life. You probably have much better ideas, so write some down and
commit to them.

The gifts in boxes and bags won’t last a lifetime. The gift of eternal life is the only one that does…

Salvation Given
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…” - Ecclesiastes 3:1


There is no time like the present and there is no present like this Christmas season.


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