Are you happy that this crazy year is ending in just a few days? Are you ready to move on? I get it; there have been ads for Christmas sales since before Halloween. But, before you toss your tree on the curb and move to the next thing like the rest of the world, I want you to embrace a challenge. We as Catholics are just beginning to celebrate the Lord’s birth. The liturgical season does not end until the Baptism of the Lord, the day after Epiphany, on January 9! So, let’s continue to celebrate and share the joy with/to the world. How?
First, connect to the deeper meaning of the season. It can seem like Christmas has become only a day of getting stuff—of over-commercialized sales-events of high profits and crazed consumerism. And then it becomes a time of “Did everyone disappoint you? Return their gifts and please yourself!” As an antidote to that, carve out time and come to Mass! Receive the best, real gift of Jesus in the Eucharist! We celebrate every weekday at 8 AM.
Second, recognize that feeling a little sad is common after the holiday is all over. Don’t let it be over. Sadness is inward-looking and service is the opposite. So go make someone else’s life better and do something nice for someone every day until January 9 and beyond. Joy will start to replace sorrow. Meaning and purpose will begin to reinsert itself into your world.
Third, remember that all gifts do not have to be wrapped. Begin the Christmas season and 2023 with the meaningful and life-changing gift of forgiveness. Offer it to someone who has offended you – whether they can hear you or not. And here’s the surprise: You will likely benefit the most, even more than the person you forgive; it’s as much a gift to yourself as it is to the offender.
Fourth, get together with others. Defy the norm of isolation that covid brought us, even if that means creating a family of friends with whom to celebrate. Start to invite people into your life and plan at least one post-holiday gathering to look forward to – perhaps even an outing for which you dress up, or an occasion that motivates a tidier home. Do it today!
Fifth, change your attitude. We often tend to over-exaggerate the negative and under-accentuate the good. Carve out time for a prayer and you write down all that’s a blessing in life. This can act to underscore the good and allow us to be grateful. Gratitude is more contagious than the flu!
Finally, shift your expectations. Toss away those new year’s resolutions. Why? Our biggest cause of disappointment is when our expectations are not met. If you expect little or nothing, being content to accept anything God has planned, everything that comes will be a blessing to savor!
Before you toss this list aside, take action today toward making this whole Christmas season more enjoyable and meaningful. Do not forget: Jesus is born! He has come into the world to be with us, and he wants us to be happy! Merry Christmas!