Friday, December 3, 2010

Do you have the Holiday Spirit?



It is with enormous sadness that I momentary look out my window at all the merriment displayed; strands of evergreen and wreaths draped on doorways and windows, illumination glistening on eaves, trees and roof tops and music serenading in stores as a steady reminder of the upcoming Christmas season.


It is a time when I recognize and am reminded what a particularly difficult time of year this is for countless individuals in our world. People are unemployed, money is sparse as benefits have run dry; compounding the decision of whether to buy gifts or groceries. There is a remarkable sadness that has blanketed the world as individuals are grieving for lost loved ones, fatal illness have been diagnosed and tragedies have abounded.

Yet, we struggle with who is on our shopping list, how much shall we spend on each individual and is it enough? Do I have an abundance of decorations? Who will attend my party? We frantically search for the illusive gift with the purpose to make that special someone content and pleased. We attempt to out-shine our neighbors with lights, glitter and glitz packaging with it insurmountable stress.

Is this what the Lord, our God had in mind with the birth of Jesus Christ? It is during these hectic frantic times that I am reminded that the season is more than the gaily decorated gifts, or the amount of presents under the tree. It is more beautiful than that of the elucidation of our decorations dressing our homes and the sweet smells of cookies baking.

I personally rummage around for the Christmas spirit each season only to fall short, so while I continue to try to find the false delight I pray for the fortitude to seek it only within my heart.

And in closing, where do you find yours and does it go missing in action this time of year?

31 comments:

Carol Riggs said...

I agree; Christmas is WAY too commercialized, and way off the point of the Reason for the Season, Jesus' birth. Since my husband got laid off his job just before Thanksgiving (nice timing, guys), we are definitely focusing on things other than gifts. Or doing homemade, simpler gifts. Christmas is often a time of high anxiety and stress for a lot of people. Sad!

JennyD said...

Hi, Tracy; I know what you mean, but you know, there's no way out of all the glitz of the season and everything that goes with it. For me, the glitz (for lack of a better word) is really for the kids and it's so much fun. It's gifts for the children just as the three wise men made gifts to the baby Jesus. Granted, over the non-countable years, we have gone over the top, but as I was thinking about this the other day, at first I wanted to rebel and only celebrate the spiritual side -- but then I realized that my house would be the only house on the street that would end up looking dark and unhappy and just not in the modern traditional spirit. So, I'm decorating, but that doesn't stop me from knowing in my heart and giving thanks in my heart for the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ.
XOXOXO

Patty Ann said...

Oh, I so know what you mean. I have 11 children (8 are grown), 5 have spouses and I have 8 grandchildren. That does not count he nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, or parents. We have cut down in all areas to try and survive. I love the idea of four gifts, Three are gold, frankincense, murrh, and the fourth is Santa Clause. This year, I did family gifts for all the grown children with families, I bought them a nativity set that is not breakable and gave it to them on Thanksgiving. The younger children are getting one main gift with several family gifts. I am not nearly as stressed as last year, but still have a feeling that I am doing too much. Christmas is soooooo commercialized!! I refuse to commercialize easter. We have never done Easter baskets or believed in the Easter Bunny. We make Easter the sacred holiday that I wish Christmas could be. We talk about the Savior, His Atonement, and His life and death. I pour everything into it and make it all about Jesus. That way, I at least feel a little better about it when Christmas gets away from me.

Canyon Girl said...

When I grew up in 1940s Sweden, my family created something I am now so grateful for: A true Christmas spirit. Not very religious, but still a reminder of what that day means. It started with the Advent calendar, some special presents bought, often at an outdoor Christmas market, a tree put up the night before Christmas Eve (not a month ahead of time). Then on Christmas Eve, the special lunch, the dinner where relatives gathered, and after dinner, Santa would come (while we were small)then the opening of the present that evening. And sometimes we would go to the early, very early morning service in church on Christmas Day. Then the 12 days of Christmas were celebrated and after that, the tree went out with something called Christmas tree plunder where the little kids would gather and plunder the tree and get a ton of candies to bring home. Loved it. Do you think I should post a blog about this? It got soooo long? Inger

Ginny said...

Do you think that Jesus would be horrified? Well, I will tell you one thing that really annoys me, and that's Santa Claus. He is truly the anti-Jesus and is replacing Jesus. Ask kids who Christmas is about and they will say Santa!! Santa also represents all the commercialization of Christmas as well. Where is Santa in the bible, NOT! I know some people will probably read my comment and think I'm an old grouch, which I am not, we have wonderful Christmases! But Santa just bugs me! Well, as long as you asked...

Kittie Howard said...

I personally think the entire holiday season is waaaaay too commercialized. Having said that, I think people know this and observe Christmas in a way that is best for their families.

Out on the prairie said...

We always shared when I was a kid and I still do now. I enjoy trees set up by Salvation Army, and buy gifts for two of the children listed. I have two daughters so I get them each one thing of their chosing.Thats my shopping unless I get me something.I do make goodies and take plates to all my neighbors.

Ami said...

We are buying very few things this year. 40% salary cuts will do that to ya.

:)

But we're all healthy, things are good in our family life, we love, are loved, warm, cared for and hug a lot.

Christmas for us includes finding a person in need and anonymously making sure that person has a lot of thoughtful gifts this year.

Julie said...

Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my blog, I always appreciate it!

You raise some excellent points throughout your posts. It seems as if all too often many get so caught up in the monetary/extraneous things of the holidays without remembering that it isn't easy for everyone - mentally, financially, emotionally, physically.

For me, I try to stay strong. I try to lead by example by donating gifts in people's names. I'm probably hated for it at times, but oh well.

Here's hoping that the true holiday spirit someone manifests more often than not...

2 Tramps said...

Tracy,

Thank you so much for your comment on my blog. You really lifted my spirits. I was just at Costco and found the holiday shopping of others to be overwhelming when I was simply buying for sustenance.

Yep, I have on my big girl panties and Tramp 1 isn't going to have a clue as to how I am feeling or how much I am worried about his health and about me trying to make some sort of Christmas for us. Hey, its for the best that he stays out of the attic and off the roof anyway! We don't buy gifts for each other - instead we give gifts to some family members that are in need or alone - and we can still do that! My dear Dad died unexpectedly just before Christmas some years ago and if we can get through that, we can sure do this!

Jules said...

I believe the spirit of Christmas lies with in us all. I think when we let that spirit out the glow out shines all of man kinds faults.

Lovely, reminder of what we should really be celebrating :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Daisy said...

Sometimes I think the spirit of Christmas gets lost in all the hustle bustle, but I try not to lose sight of it. I'm well aware of the reason we are celebrating, and try to keep it in focus.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

I used to be a scrooge at Christmas, Tracy. When my children were young, my first husband and I spent WAY too much money on them at Christmas --and we paid for it all of the following year. The stress was horrible. I knew something was terribly wrong.

I finally decided to find the true meaning of Christmas. We cut out most of the gifts---and quit spending money... We started doing things for others at Christmas instead of ourselves. By giving instead of getting, our family changed its feelings about what the true meaning of Christmas is....

I still love Christmas --and we do celebrate the birth of Christ. We go to the Christmas Eve services ---and can feel the presence of God all around... Praise God for Jesus....

Hugs,
Betsy

Tracy said...

Thanks to ALL of you...and I mean that whole-heartedly! I have read and re-read and pondered all the reponses and made a goal... I 'want' to do things for the season that fit the three entities...Is it pleasing to God? Is it pleasing to my family? and is it pleasing to the community?
...that being said, I shout out a prayer that may everything I do be a refelction of these three questions. May my focus be on the joy within.
I loved hearing all your comments~

Arkansas Patti said...

Commercialization of Christmas has pretty much put mine spirit into the MIA catagory. The meaning has gotten so lost in Ipods and Wiis. There is a lot of hurt out there this year, I am looking for a way to ease if if just a bit.

Bobbi said...

This is such a great post. Last night my 3 year old granddaughter stayed overnight with me. She marveled in the Christmas Village that we had put up just for her and our grandson... and she played with the little figurines. I thought it would be a good time to tell her about the true meaning of Christmas, and what better way than to read her the book I'd purchased with her in mind, just a few years back. "Mary Did you Know". Watching her read this book brought tears to my eyes, and I actually filmed it and am going to put the video on my blog... but my point is, we need to let our little ones know early on about the true reason we celebrate. Thank you for this post!!!

Dianne said...

every year I try to get my family involved in doing a charity act together and get excuse after excuse - I always cook for the guys at the VFW

when my son was a child we would make coupon books for each other - for a hug, for a fancy breakfast, for a day at the zoo ...

I've suggested that too and my get looks like I'm crazy

I'm sorry to say that my family is very materialistic and I'm the "odd" one

JennyD said...

Tracy, I sure didn't mean to sound like it was all about the decor. I decorate, yes, and it's to have our whole neighborhood look nice, but every year I adopt at least 3 families and completely stock them with food to last a week or more and gifts for all of them (including the kids). Most years I can find a little time to serve up a meal or two at the shelters and that's so much fun. It's just that I reread what I said and I really think it came across as sort of la-de-dah, and it wasn't meant that way at all, sheesh. xoxoxo

Nancy said...

I've become comfortable with my views on less- is-more as far as the holiday is concerned. I express how I feel to my family each year -- that it's time to scale back and focus on being together -- and if they don't agree or like it, that's the way it is. I don't succumb to the over-gifting, cat-iness or selfishness the sometimes arises on the day. I just sit back, take it all in and smile.

Catherine said...

You are so right Tracy ~ one has to make an effort to not let Christmas get to be 'too much'. If we are stressed out by running around trying to think of something to buy someone or about all the baking and cooking we have to do, then we have truly missed what the holiday is supposed to be about! Why are we doing all that? Who are we doing it for? If we choose to keep Christmas simple ~ I think we enjoy it more! :)

Happy Saturday!
xo Catherine

Simple Southern Happiness said...

Bless you Tracy on the passing of your father. I feel for you as holidays can be tough in many ways but missing a loved one is very hard. I pray for you and the lord will bring you comfort.

My dad passed away from lung cancer Dec 2005 right before Christmas. I am blessed the lord has eased some of my pain I still miss him and still will cry. He went into the hospital not feeling good a week before thanksgiving and then transported to a hospice. So both holidays are somber for me.

I too struggled with this gift giving even when times were good. As believers; Christmas time is for Jesus and his birth, we lift him up with song and praise for he came to save us from our sin, be good and kind to one another, forgiving as he forgives us.

We were brought up in a Christian home and as children we did have Santa until we were old enough to know the true meaning. I am thankful we had that time, they were fun memories. We had it hard but mom and dad never let us know. We only got a few gifts each but they meant everything to us.

Our family have not given gifts for many years, the boys know the true meaning and so do the grand children. Keeping Jesus in our heart all year long, giving and helping others is what Jesus said to do all the time.

I pray the lord will lift your spirits and give you answers to what you are struggling with. We all have different ways of looking at things, not to say what is right or wrong, I let the lord be the judge.

Get alone in prayer to the lord and he will speak to your heart and reveal what is good for you.

God Bless you dear one.

Simple Southern Happiness said...

correction to my post above...

Tracy, I am sorry, It was ID 2 Tramps that lost her father this time of year. I pray the lord will lift her spirits.

Prayers for all who are hurting.

Tracy said...

I have so treasured hearing everyone's thoughts, feelings and precious memories of the holiday spirit. And Simple Southern, your post about Tramp2's dad reminded me something that I try to put out of my mind...my Dad was found deceased in his apt. after a couple of days of not hearing from him in early Dec.; right about now. They don't know exactly what date he died but I've always tried to put it out of my mind becuase it means he died alone and that makes me feel very sad...
AGain, thank you all and God Bless you for being so vital in my blogging community!

Kimmy said...

Tracy you are not alone girl. I too have found it hard to have the Christmas spirit when the season comes. Last year we didn't even put up a tree. It just seemed like something else to spend money on that we didn't really have. My husband lost his job in July of this yr when his plant shut down. He's used his time by going back to school for something he loves to do (networking computers) and hopefully by the time his severance is up next month, he'll be able to find a job doing that. We've never had a Christmas with so many *ifs* but ironically enough, I feel more *Christmasy* this yr than yrs before. Maybe it's the spirit working on me, giving me strength that things will fall into place.
Gob Bless you sweetie! And thank you for your sweet comments on my photos!

Simple Southern Happiness said...

Tracy, I am so very sorry to read of your father's passing but he was not alone, The lord was with him.

Don't let satan put negative thoughts in your mind to upset you, That is the way he works. If I could, I would write a book on how he works on folks that are hurting...He worked on me hard to keep me from feeling God's gift of his Grace!!! But no more, I found as believers we have power as I/we are a child of God.

Please keep that thought in your mind that the lord was with your father. I was not in the room when my father passed on. It was my turn to stay with my father that night but my back was giving me fits and I could not be there. That night God chose to take my dad and it was his purpose to do it that way. He knew how upset I would have been should I have seen him draw his last breath. I know my father did not leave this world alone, God was with him. I hope in some way my words that the lord is telling me to type will help you in this difficult time. There is joy in the morning, I am living proof. I am still in an over 2-1/2 + year trial and it took some time but the lord showed me his awesome grace. It took this amount of time to show me what I was doing wrong. I was not giving all "ME" to the lord. Give yourself fully to the lord and he promises you will feel his peace and grace.

God's Peace I pray for you this and everyday.

kenju said...

Tracy, my Christmas spirit is lacking until I see the faces of my grandchildren and they bring it back to me.

Thanks for the nice compliment regarding the decorating. The Mansion is open for tours on December9th from noon to 8pm, on the 10th from 10 to 5, on the 11th from 10 to 5 and on the 12th from 1 to 4.

The Words Crafter said...

I think the stress of buying and keeping up and making it more and more is taking the wonder out of the whole season, as well as the overwhelming movement to take Merry Christmas away and place it with Happy Holidays.

I say Merry Christmas! And, my side of the family has moved away from the gift giving. This year, we're doing inexpensive pet gifts and a gift for our niece. No stress there.

On my husband's side, there's a very small limit. He tried to do the no gift, let's just get together and have fun, but maybe next year...

The Teacher's Pets said...

Good question and NO I don't think this is what Jesus had in mind for a celebration. I'd imagine He is pretty irritated with all of the commercialism of Christmas and that the focus of Christmas is not where it should be.
When I was a child I was thrilled to open presents but now that I've grown older I think the focus should be on celebrating family, friends, and God, and nothing else. Sure, I love decorations and the occasional gift but I don't enjoy the pressure that comes upon me each year to spend money I don't really have!

Julie Musil said...

Definitely too commercialized. We've stripped Christmas down to the bare minimum. Our list is shopping list is VERY short. Our boys are well aware of the WHY of the season, and thankfully, not obsessed about what's in it for them. A good start.

Brian said...

Well, we really do love to lay under the Christmas tree!

Simple Southern Happiness said...

One other thing to add. I find the holiday spirit is different as we get older; We grow up in body and mind, families change and I have found this changes our way of thinking. I don't have that typical feeling that you will see on TV or in past years. Folks cant wait to put up the tree ...etc... If it were up to me, I would not put up decorations but I do it because family wants it and by the time I am finished, I am relieved. Then as the days pass, I like having them up and as I look at them, they do take me back to days gone, some good and some not so. I will lay on the floor under the tree and look up through the lights, this takes me back to when I was a child, I would fall asleep under there.
I think sometimes we are looking for an artificial feeling and striving to have the feeling we once had as children. Now the holiday spirit with me is more mature and my thoughts are on Jesus birth and keeping his word in my heart.

Hang in there....