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Saint Paul encourages us in 1 Thessalonians, “Rejoice always…for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
It takes conscious decision making to stay focused on this message as Christmas gallops toward us like a deer in headlights and the days get more and more hectic. When we are most preoccupied, most overwhelmed, most disheartened, it’s the perfect time to “take five.”
That beautiful tree we decorated with delight can reflect back to us the joy we shared in putting it up. Let’s turn out the evening light, sit in silence for five minutes, take in the beauty, recall great memories and bask in the peace that we feel. This is seasonal merry making with a glow.
The familiar carols find us tapping our fingers on the steering wheel or the dash board. The refrain we sing out loud with gusto can be an affirmation of the truth that “sets us free.” It can resonate in our heart for five minutes after the music stops. That’s equal to wishing ourselves a hearty “Merry Christmas.”
The store clerk grins broadly, checks us out and dismisses us with a cheerful “Happy Holidays.” We can share genuine holiday joy as we remind the clerk and ourselves why all this hoopla, “Merry Christmas to you too!”
The contentment we feel as we wrap that special gift with love is not lost on God. We can “take five” to thank God for this wonderful person who graces our life with goodness and joy. God smiles when we acknowledge his gifts and express our gratitude.
The weather outside is frightful and we hug ourselves tightly to hold in the warmth. Let us imagine the shepherds on the hillside watching their flocks by night. Suddenly the heavenly host of angels breaks upon them with the good news that Jesus is born. A touch of warmth might envelop us as we place ourselves mentally at the manger.
There is no such thing as a perfect Christmas outside of heaven. If we can allow ourselves to live with this, we can concentrate on finding those simple five or so minutes in which we truly reflect the spirit of Christmas. Whenever we raise our minds and hearts to God through truth, beauty and goodness, we are echoing God in us. “Merry Christmas” lives in us and spills out to a world waiting for the good news.
Sister Paula Gohs, C.D.P., is a pastoral associate at St. John’s The Evangelist Catholic Church in Carrollton.