I define the Christmas season as the period from Thanksgiving through Christmas. It is my favorite time of the year, as it is for many people. I love what I call "The Christmas Spirit," which inspires many of us to donate more to charities at Christmas, help friends & neighbors & relatives more, smile more, fellowship more, renew relationships, etc.
My 2016 Christmas tree (pictured above) is the same tree I've used for a few years. It is a bit less than 3 feet tall, and it doesn't take long to decorate. But it means a lot to me. The Nativity scene below it as a "gift" under the tree reminds me of Jesus' birth. The plaque to the tree's left is one I keep out all year round to help inspire me to seek to live according to God's will. The star reminds me of God's guidance (God's guiding light) and that planet Earth is tiny compared to the size of the universe.
In addition to doing Christmas decorating, I enjoy looking at the decorations of others, and listening to Christmas carols while washing dishes and doing various tasks around my apartment. And, of course, fellowship with others is an important part of the season, as is service for others.
For many charities, Christmas is the time they receive the most donations, and I enjoy donating to a few charities myself. It's nice the way many persons seem to be in a better mood at Christmas. The poor and needy may always be around, but our donations at Christmas may be the largest ones, gifts that help care for the needy during lean times of the year when donations are not as large. We can give food or other basic necessities to needy individuals as well as giving time and/or money to recognized charities. I do this, and I enjoy doing it, but I (and maybe you, too) could do much more.
Christmas Memories, Fellowship, Greetings, etc.
Christmas is also a time we make wonderful memories and cherish the wonderful memories of the past. I remember grandparents visiting for Christmas, Christmas dinners, fellowship, and some of the gifts received and given, as well as the thoughtfulness of the givers. Good fellowship with friends and relatives in one way or another is a big part of Christmas for me, too.
It is a joy to send and receive Christmas greetings. And, yes, I still enjoy sending and receiving Christmas cards (especially those with personal notes) sent through the United States Postal Service. But, in recent years, many of my Christmas greetings have been sent and received via Facebook and email. That's fine, too. It's also great to contact persons via phone and hear the voices of loved ones live.
And, visiting is great, too. But weather conditions, budgets, timetables, and the large geographical distances over which many are spread now, sometimes limit the ability to visit in person. That's why Christmas greeting cards, letters, emails, Facebook messages, phone calls, etc., are so nice. It's good to keep in touch (or get back in touch) anytime, but Christmas may offer a special opportunity to contact an old friend, former neighbor, former classmate, former coworker, distant relative, etc., whom you haven't been in contact with for some time. I know I have renewed some friendships this way.
The Reason for Celebrating Christmas
A Nativity scene on my door (pictured above) helps me remember the reason for celebrating Christmas, the birth of Jesus. I know Jesus probably was not born on December 25, but since we don't know when he was born, December 25 seems to be a good day to celebrate his birth.
Even many nonChristians value a lot of the teachings of Jesus stated in the four New Testament gospels. His urge for his followers to love even our enemies sets a standard that would revolutionize the world in the right way if we all truly did it.
Jesus is sometimes referred to as the "Prince of Peace," and when we receive a white Christmas (not too often here in Kentucky), it seems especially nice and peaceful. The clean, white snow appears to be the color of purity as well as the color of every color in the rainbow. Somehow the world seems at peace when covered by a blanket of freshly fallen snow. As long as it causes no problems, I would love to see a white Christmas. An image of a snowman with the words "Let it Snow!" (pictured below) is on the outside of my apartment door below the Nativity scene.
New Year's Resolutions on Christmas Eve
In recent years, one thing I do to make my Christmas even more special is that on Christmas Eve I finish editing my New Year's Resolutions for the upcoming New Year, then print out a copy. On Christmas Day I seek to begin keeping my New Year's Resolutions. I also seek to pray over all my New Year's Resolutions (I typically have several.) each morning and evening as part of my devotional time from Christmas Day through New Year's Eve. That way, if I fail to keep my resolutions, I have a second chance to keep them beginning on New Year's Day. Really, any day is a great day to seek to resolve to do better in some way, but beginning on the day considered Jesus' birthday seems to be an especially good way to begin a new life, a new habit, etc.
My Christmas Day
For several years now, my main get together with family and friends for the Thanksgiving/Christmas season has usually been taking place in November or early December at my mom's house in southeastern Kentucky. Therefore, I usually spend most of Christmas Day itself alone at my apartment, but I am not lonely. I take time to make some phone calls to close family members to say "Merry Christmas." It's a quiet, but enjoyable day. I try to devote a bit of extra time to a devotional, spend some time alone with God, reflect on Jesus and the importance of his life and teachings, take a short walk around my neighborhood, and catch up on some reading and organizing at my apartment.
Everyone, please enjoy the Christmas season. Be good, have fun, and do good. Take time to help others, fellowship with others, and to renew a relationship with at least one person that you've fallen out of contact with.
Have a very Merry Christmas and your happiest New Year!
NOTE: This article posted on Newsvine on December 24, 2016 is basically reprinted from one I posted on another website on December 20, 2016.