Keeping our focus this Christmas season

Farmville Enterprise December 6, 2017

December has rolled around again and many of us are hoping we might do a better job focusing on what is most important this Advent. Some of us have busy everyday lives and the thought of Christmas shopping, wrapping, cooking, card-writing and merrymaking often sounds more stressful than cheery. There are some things we can do to enjoy a more meaningful Advent season.

  1. Focus on the object of our celebration. “While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.’” (Luke 2:6-11) This is the reason we celebrate. For the weeks leading up to Christmas our number one priority should be drawing closer to God and remembering what he has done for us. This gift of Jesus, God incarnate, transforms our lives. Listening to carols and “The Messiah,” having personal devotions, attending corporate worship, and reading Advent devotionals as a family are all good ways to keep the main thing the main thing.
  2. Focus on people and not on things. The older we get the more we realize that interpersonal relationships mean so much more than material possessions. We should help our children and grandchildren see this firsthand. In the long run they will appreciate our presence more than our presents. Some parents limit each child to three gifts to signify the gold, frankincense and myrrh that the infant Jesus received. I read another idea which was to give four gifts: “Something you wear, something you need, something you want, something you read.” In our family we were better at limiting ourselves to a dollar amount than to a specific number of items. At least three Christian relief organizations have gift catalogs where you can send a monetary donation in the name of someone for things like chickens, goats, cows, soccer balls, medicines and mosquito nets. Charity Navigator scores Samaritan’s Purse at 96, Compassion International at 89 and World Vision at 80. Charity Watch gives them A-, A and A- respectively. By spending more time with family and friends we show them how valued they are. Take time together having an at-home movie night or a game night. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is a personal favorite. Make a point to eat meals together. They don’t have to be elaborate but might include candles or a special dessert. Let’s not forget the importance of having children make cards or food and helping them deliver those to shut-ins or people who could use a kind gesture.
  3. Focus on the spirit of what we are doing and not on perfection. Our homes do not have to be magazine worthy nor do our meals. Many of us will enjoy this Christmas season more if we put less pressure on ourselves about outward appearances and nurture the more important aspects of community and fellowship.

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