Herald Journal Columns
Dec. 23, 2002

We do know the real reason for the season


Just as I was beginning to really get into the swing of the Christmas season again, I started to notice the grumpiness and stress of the holidays getting to people.

Now that I have had a family of my own for a few years, I think I finally am able to distinguish the point of no return, so as to avoid getting to the grumpy, "Scroogey" stage.

Christmas is a difficult time, with all of the running around, money spending, and parties to attend. It can be tough to deal with when you have too little time and not enough money, as most of us do right now.

But let's get back to the real meaning of Christmas. We've all noticed that the true meaning has gone by the wayside for some families, and we should be ashamed of ourselves for letting that happen. But it hasn't gone that way for all of us.

What some would called "the impending doom we call Christmas," I find both exciting and stressful, all at the same time. It's all what you make of it.

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. I know that and my children know that (I know that they do because I, myself, have taught them the Christmas story).

I can't help but wonder if some people feel the traditions we carry from year to year are negative, or detrimental to our society. I know that there are families that do not celebrate with a visit from Santa because they feel that it takes the focus away from Jesus.

My opinion is this - the traditions that we celebrate during the Christmas season are for the purpose of making Jesus' birthday a celebration. Shouldn't His birthday be a celebration?

Do we need a Christmas tree or gifts to celebrate Christmas? No way.

Is Santa Claus a requirement for the holiday? Absolutely not.

But the traditions all add to the magical Christmas atmosphere that we've enjoyed since we were children.

We do need, however, to give Jesus' birthday the recognition it deserves. It is, after all, a celebration of the birth of the man who gave us the best gift we've ever received.

In our society, as well as every other society, traditions are alive. Christmas traditions, such as Christmas trees, lights, family get-togethers, Santa, etc., are what makes the Christmas celebration just that - a celebration.

It is a parental responsibility to teach our children to celebrate our traditions, which are gifts, given to us by God.

My two-and-a-half year old son is just this year noticing the Christmas lights and ornaments on the tree, and the fun traditions of Christmas in our society.

He is also learning the story of Jesus' birth. Will he understand yet? No, but he may remember next year. My nine-year-old does know understand, though.

Each and every year they will be hearing the same Christmas story until, someday, they will tell the story to their own children.

We need to allow the Christmas holiday to be exciting for both children and adults. There's nothing wrong with enjoying this time of the year. Christianity, which is essentially what we are celebrating, is exciting and joyful! Let it happen.

As for this year, I am excited about Christmas. Sure, there is stress involved with it.

The reality of it is that the stress comes from having too much to do, which means that we are extended too much love from our families and friends.

As difficult as it is to run non-stop for most of the month of December, I enjoy all the family get-togethers. I feel fortunate that I have a family to get together with.

The self-induced stress comes from wanting to go to all of the celebrations, and to buy all of the gifts. In reality, if it gets to be too much for you to handle, back off and say no to some of your activities, and don't buy expensive gifts if you can't afford them. It's as simple as that.

It's all in your attitude. Enjoy Christmas and all of the traditions that come along with it. It's a magical time.

And be sure to remember the "reason for the season" as you celebrate this year, and enjoy all of the Christmas magic that comes with it. Discuss it with your children or grandchildren. Read the story to them directly out of the Bible.

And decorate your home while you are enjoying the season. It's ok to celebrate. It shares with the world that you feel Jesus' birthday is deserving of all the fanfair.

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