We hear it in countless songs, we see it all over the television: it's the most wonderful time of the year. It seems split, however, when you look at the people around you. People are lonely, anxious, or irritated at the commercialism that haunts the holiday. People cannot get past that the holiday they celebrate isn't the only one celebrated, and get angry when wished something other than the holiday they celebrate. Some people are grieving, others lack faith, hope, or peace. Some people revel in the holiday festivities, joyous that they can give to their friends and family. People curl up in front of fires or gather together drinking hot chocolate and watching their favorite traditional Christmas special. Either people are happy and soaking up every bit of holiday cheer or they are miserable and wishing that this time of year would just hurry up and get over with.
I generally find myself all over the board on the holiday emotional rollercoaster, somewhere between the rise of holiday nostalgia and the fall of never having enough money to buy everyone everything I wanted to. Yet, Christmas is not about the soft glow of the Christmas tree. Hanukkah is not about candy coins. Of course we have our traditions, comradery, our share of distresses. That is all a part of this human experience we call life. These holidays are much more than all of that. It is a time to recognize the miracles that happen all year round. It is a time to find peace and joy in our lives that might otherwise be full of chaos and anxiety. Christmas, Hanukkah, and pretty much any other winter holiday is meant to remember what God has done in our lives, a time to cling to our family and friends, a time to pay it forward and make this world a better place to live in. So the next time someone cuts you off in traffic, rather than being angry and letting it ruin your whole day, think for a moment about what that person might be going through. Say a prayer for him or her. The next time you feel rushed or worry about which bills you can postpone and which ones you cant, think for a moment of the families around the world who do not have roofs over their heads, a warm place to sleep, or food for their children. As our children open their many presents this holiday, remember to be thankful for the abundant blessings in our lives. And if there is anything we can do to pay it forward, such as committing to a cause that helps other people dig wells for clean drinking water or provide food, clothes, toys, and medical care to children who are less fortunate than our own.
Matthew 25:40 "And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'" (NLT)