Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A holiday reflection

This time of year can be so busy. It seems like there's always a gift to buy, an errand to run, a package to mail, a party to attend.

But it's also magical. I have two young daughters, and I love seeing Christmastime though their eyes: their faces light up when we drive around to look at Christmas lights; they are so eager to receive the treat of a cup of hot chocolate; they squeal in delight when they see the blow-up Santa in our neighbor's front yard. They remind me that this unique time of year is to be thoroughly enjoyed.

I recently read a book called The Biography of Santa Clause. It's fiction, of course, but it has its roots in history. According to this account, a man from a city called Myrna became the man we know as St. Nicholas. Because Christ had come three hundred years earlier, Nicholas knew of Jesus and followed his teachings. He knew that we are to love one another and to take care of one another, so when he heard of a family in his community that needed help, he felt compelled to offer his. Nicholas understood that Jesus' point is for us to be kind and loving and generous, not for us to receive credit for good deeds. Nicholas deposited his gifts of aid in the family's house in the middle of the night so as not to be seen. Legend has it that he found such fulfillment in anonymously helping others that he made it his life's mission.

I love that account of St. Nicholas-- I think it's much better than the myths of Santa Clause that circulate today.

Christmas is a time when we acknowledge and celebrate the gift God gave us when he sent Jesus to Earth. I think it's abundantly appropriate to reflect on what Jesus did while here: He loved others.

I try to teach my girls that we don't just give random gifts to family and friends at Christmas: we try to show others that we know and love and want to delight them. And we don't just hastily grab a card off the Angel Tree at work, sigh, and add it to our long list of to-do's: we show a child that others care about her.

If you know my girls, you know they keep me on my toes. But they also teach me to be deliberate, especially at this time of year. I want them to remember the holidays as a time to love and honor others, be they family or strangers. That's what Jesus did when he came to Earth so many centuries ago. My girls may not understand theology yet, but they understand love and generosity.

So you can say that my 3 and 1 year old have helped me rediscover the joy of Christmas: that is celebrating the birth of a baby who became the greatest lover of people who ever lived.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours.


  1. Merry Christmas and blessings for your time with family!

  2. I've been reading your blog and I love it. How can I sign up to follow it?