Sometimes I feel a bit confounded by the way our culture celebrates Christmas. We go to church and listen to the story of a humble savior who came into the world surrounded by shepherds and rejoiced by angels. Then we go to the stores in a frenzy of materialism and shop for sweaters, electronics, and toys. Don’t get me wrong – I love Christmas and the feeling of generosity that abounds this time of year. I love the stories of people who dress up as Santa and spread Christmas cheer. The focus on the joy of children and the appreciation of family is wonderful. I enjoy buying gifts for those close to me. If someone would like to give me a Bluetooth heart rate monitor to help me track my workouts I would be delighted. But Christmas is about more than slippers, or toys, or phones or fleeting acts of goodwill.
What about the gifts of Christmas that can’t be wrapped in gift wrap or tucked in a stocking? What are the things I really hope for in the coming year?
1. Peace – I wish to have a peaceful spirit that is not quickly drawn into petty conflicts. I desire to have a quiet confidence that acts as a shield against stress and criticism.
2. Patience – Patience with my family and myself and the world around me. I think every mother, regardless how she looks to those around her, would like a little more patience.
3. Kindness – I know over the years I have grown in kindness, but it is a long road. My younger self wasn’t afraid to tell someone when I thought they were wrong or could do better. Over the years I hope I’ve gained a better understanding of what motivates people. My complaints or demands, when presented without kindness, are not likely to bring about change. Responding with kindness can change a person’s day for the better and start an uplifting change of events. Besides it feels great to be kind.
4. Better control of what I say – In a society that values wit and humor, it can be difficult to think things through before speaking or blogging. If we aren’t quick to form an opinion and write about it, the “moment” might be gone. Checking the facts and the source of information seems to be a lost art as we throw around the latest posts we find agreeable. In the coming year, I hope to seek the truth and be teachable when my perception isn’t true.
5. A joyful spirit – For many years I wished my first name wasn’t Carol. The only Carols I knew were at least 30 years older than me and sometimes kids would call me Christmas Carol. Then I really thought about the meaning, “A song of joy” and I decided to do my best to bring joy to other people’s lives. It doesn’t mean I’m always happy or that I can leave behind my serious concern about certain issues, but it does mean I can strive to be a source of encouragement.
My hope for each and every one of us is that 2014 will be a year of personal growth. That at the end of next year, you and I can look back and say, “I really did a better job of being patient with the kids and enjoying my life and showing compassion to other people.” What better time to embrace the gifts of Christmas!
Merry Christmas and may your New Year be joyous and bright!