This time of the year always seems to be so much of a hassle. What used to be the beginning of the Christmas shopping season with Black Friday, now has moved even earlier and earlier. Many worry about sending Christmas cards, baking Christmas cookies, decorating, cleaning the house for guests, putting up the Christmas tree, buying gifts, (and wondering how I am going to pay for all those things that are now on my credit card!)
What does any of this really have to do with Christmas—the birth of Christ?
If you are honest, wouldn’t you just love to forget about all of the social pressures that are placed upon us by a consumer-driven society and all of the commercialism that eclipses this sacred season? I still love A Charlie Brown Christmas because it reminds us all of this very point.
Advent is meant as a time for spiritual preparation for Christmas—four weeks of spiritual preparation! Most of us are not even aware of this preparatory season let alone take the time to observe it. The Christmas season doesn’t really begin until Christmas Eve. Soon after people are already tired of Christmas and begin taking down the decorations and the tree. The (ever-more secular) Christmas songs disappear from the radio and the Valentine’s Day displays start appearing in the stores (right behind those huge after-Christmas sales!)
I have a suggestion for you. Cut back on the materialism. Don’t buy into the consumer mentality. Buy a few less gifts. (Who needs those outrageous credit card interest rates anyway?) Bake fewer cookies. (My bathroom scale has continually reminded me that while they may taste good, I really don’t need their residual effects hanging around my gut for prolonged periods of time!)
Rather, do something spiritual that helps to focus on Christ. Pray a bit more. Go to confession. Help someone unfortunate. Visit an elderly person. Read the Bible. Keep Christ in Christmas.
I can’t take away the stress that often comes this time of year. But by following my advice you may help to reduce it slightly. (And save a few bucks as well!)
Fr. Ed Namiotka