The Day after Christmas Blues (The Cause; The Cure)

While Christmas is the “Hap, hap, happiest day of the year,” the days after Christmas can be real downers.  Even if your Christmas was picture perfect — and few are— the day after is a harsh reality check.  It’s that emptiness under the tree, the piles of paper and boxes, the sink full of dirty dishes and the clutter of toys.

Since Christmas fell on a Tuesday this year,  many will awake to the jarring sound of the alarm and the reality of getting to work on time after all that holiday celebrating.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we simply could keep that Christmas spirit going for a few more days, a few more weeks.  Better still, throughout the year?   Continue reading “The Day after Christmas Blues (The Cause; The Cure)”

The Effort To Stamp out Christmas (The humble candy cane has been given new meaning)

Could it be me, or are candy canes more popular than ever this Christmas?  I made a recent trip back east to celebrate my aunt’s 90th birthday.  We stayed an extra day to attend church with her.  Much to my surprise, the men at the party and many in the service were wearing candy canes on their shirts and jackets.  All were inverted in the shape of a “J” for Jesus.

For that we can thank Jennifer Sinclair, the principal at Manchester Elementary School in Omaha, Nebraska, who attempted to rid her school of all things religious before Christmas.  She sent a memo to her staff outlining a list of unacceptable holiday items which included the candy cane because, she argued,  “Historically, the shape is a ‘J’ for Jesus. The red is for the blood of Christ, and the white is a symbol of his resurrection.” Continue reading “The Effort To Stamp out Christmas (The humble candy cane has been given new meaning)”

Best Christmas Gift Ever!

It is no accident that the stores are jammed this time of year with last minute Christmas shoppers.  I don’t think it is because most of us are procrastinators by nature.  I don’t think it is because shoppers have learned that the closer to Christmas, the better the discounts.  No, I think it is because we keep looking for the best gift ever for that special someone.

When I was young, I would invariably wait until the very last minute to buy a gift for my mom, knowing full well that there was nothing I could possibly give her that could show her the full measure of my love.  Now, it is the gift for my husband Roger that causes me to wait until the very last minute.  Oh, sure, I have lots of ideas, but somehow I just keep waiting for something better to explode into my consciousness that I couldn’t possibly have imagined the other 364 days a year.    Continue reading “Best Christmas Gift Ever!”

We Need the Peace of Christmas (But It Is Conditional)

We have entered Christmas week, the most joyous holiday of the year as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, the one who is called the “Prince of Peace.”

The trees have been trimmed.  Cards have been sent. Presents are being bought and wrapped and familiar carols are being sung like “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

And mild and sweet their songs repeat

of peace on earth good will to men.

Peace is something we all want — freedom from worry, a quiet and calm state of mind, agreement and harmony among people.  It’s a word that has become synonymous with Christmastime. Continue reading “We Need the Peace of Christmas (But It Is Conditional)”

Why Christmas Matters

Last week, I went into the Gap to buy a gift card for a young friend of ours.  I asked for one that said “Merry Christmas” and the clerk said, “Oh, you won’t find anything like that in here.”  I was stunned.  Then I remembered an email I received from the American Family Association on its “Naughty or Nice” list listing retailers who were friendly or openly hostile to this annual opportunity to celebrate the birth of Christ.

I made a mental note to go back and check that “Naughty or Nice” list  as I thanked the clerk, but told here that I would go elsewhere.

Why would any company that does business in the United States go out of its way to insult 90 percent of the population?  Could it be that we are so busy “celebrating” that we have forgotten the reason for the season or that we no longer care?   Continue reading “Why Christmas Matters”

The Christmas Difference

Holidays are special times.  They offer a brief respite from our regular routine.   It’s a chance to get together with family and friends.  Holidays give us an opportunity to forget about our cares, have fun and celebrate whatever.

We use holidays to commemorate special events, to ring in a new year,  to show our love, to rest from our labor, to feast and help the less fortunate and to dress up in outrageous costumes.

But Christmas is different from all the other holidays.  It’s about giving and receiving.  It’s not about the gifts we buy and exchange with others, although we do a lot of that.  It’s about the greatest gift that was ever given.  Have you received it? Continue reading “The Christmas Difference”

The Joy of Christmas

“Joy” is one of the most overused words of the holiday season. It’s on our Christmas cards, gift tags and more. It is the subject of our songs and carols.

Christmas is the time to celebrate the birth of Christ. It should be a time of rejoicing and good cheer. But what if you don’t feel joyful? Many fake it, which leaves them feeling empty inside.

Others quickly lose their joy when the feasting is over, the presents are unwrapped and guests go to their respective homes.

Where did all this joy go? Did it simply vanish into thin air? Did it go into the attic with the tinsel and lights? Did it disappear with that huge pile of crumbled paper and ribbon? Is it in the box with the crèche perhaps?

No, it’s not there.

Many confuse joy with happiness, but the two are not the same. Happiness depends on circumstance, while joy does not.

Many Christians use this time to rededicate their lives. They vow to do all the right things, even if it kills them and it often does, if not physically, mentally. They end up exhausted and joyless.

Let’s face it. Living the Christian life is hard work. In fact, it is impossible on our own.

But wait! Christ told us, “My yoke is easy. My burden is light.”

It is possible to leave Christ the baby in the manger and miss the real meaning of Christmas, the reason He came to earth and lived among us.

Maybe there was a time when you had the joy, so you know what I’m talking about. However, somewhere in your zeal to “work out your salvation,” the work part took over.

Bob George analyzed this problem in a little book called “Classic Christianity.” He points out that it is a human tendency to turn what should be a vibrant, personal relationship with Christ into a religion. We stray away from the basics and often substitute the good things for the real thing.

It is so easy to get caught up in the activity of the “shoulds” of the world and the church that we forget that the Christian life is Christ, not just a change in lifestyle.

When you become a Christian, you die to yourself. In other words, you leave your old self behind and invite the resurrected Christ to live through you. But our human nature dies hard. We must ask the Holy Spirit to indwell us each and every day. We must renew our minds with His word. We also need daily two-way conversations with our Lord through prayer.Prayer involves a lot more than simply thanking God for His blessings, asking for forgiveness when we stumble (and we all do) and giving God our wish lists. The most important part is asking, “Lord, what would You have me to do today?” In other words, we need to use our prayer time to substitute His wish list for ours. When you do that, amazing things begin to happen.

Jesus will be there to guide you and to help you carry out His will every step of the way. It’s like jumping off to “light speed.” And when you come up against a seemingly impossible task, He makes a way, where there is no way. Living in this knowledge is where the real joy comes in.

It puts the little things that can trip us up – things like cleaning up from this big holiday celebration – in perspective.

The Bible says, ”Ask whatsoever you will and it will be given unto you, if (and this is a mighty big if) you abide in Me and My words abide in you.”

Don’t miss the real thing this Christmas. Don’t leave Christ the baby in the manger. If you have never invited Him to come into your life, why not do so today?

Perhaps you think you are not good enough. No one is. The Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That is why God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world, not only to teach us how to live, but to pay the price for our sins. When we accept Christ as our Savior and Lord, we are washed white as snow.

So now that the presents are unwrapped, you can look forward, not only to a new year, but a new beginning.

Wishing you the peace and true joy that only comes through following Him.