Taking in the scenes, the lights, the music, the hustle and bustle, and trying to find time for reflection on the Reason for the Season is what is taking up my time these days. Attending a free symphony of Christmas music, REAL Christmas music, with friends was a highlight of last week. Almost being done with the gift-shopping is a relief. It's going well this year for having saved money because I love to be generous at Christmas. Now, this doesn't mean extravagance, but just enough gifts to give pleasure to those I love.
Because of health I've had to let go of quite a lot of the traditions that used to go along with celebrating Christmas: making fudge, baking rolled cut-out cookies and frosting them, more candies and cookies, baking lots of Peppernuts (a German delicacy--spicey almond-sized you-can't-eat-just-one-handful crunchy cookie-like treats), sending at least 50 cards every year, home-made gifts, and lots of decorations.
Decorating has been simplified to mostly a tree with years of collected decorations filling the branches, a nativity scene, and a few table and counter-top decorations acquired through the years.
Baking still includes peppernuts, just one recipe instead of two or three. That recipe would be my mother's which is so special because it must be at least a couple hundred years old or more passed down from mother-to-mother through generations. The last few years I've enjoyed making an easy moist pumpkin bread which I bake in small loaf pans to give away or freeze to take to occasions that call for finger foods. If I must cook a meal for our small family or for a larger group of extended family, I'm not afraid to ask for or accept help. I don't mind taking shortcuts, like making boxed stuffing and adding my own variations, or buying frozen bread instead of making my own dough (altho' that's easy with the bread machine).
I send Christmas cards or a letter every-other-year and the list has shrunk as loved aunts and uncles and others have gone on to their heavenly home. I still think it's kind of unnecessary to send cards to people I see every week or so and can give them a hug and verbal greeting face-to-face, but still feel obligated when they put a card in my church mailbox or send one across town.
I've learned to say no to most of the Christmas open-house events, concerts, going Christmas caroling, and an array of other events that made the Spirit of Christmas real to me. The Spirit of Christmas is just as real as I read the Bible and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas, the terrible sacrifices God made by sending His Son into the world to live and die for the love of human kind--The ultimate gift.
I love to reflect on the experience of the humble shepherds being surprised by a heavenly host of angels to announce Jesus' birth--(wishing I could have been there), and what Mary and Joseph experienced that night and in the years that followed. Reflecting not only on the New Testament account of God coming down to human level in Christ, but how the Old Testament predicted this moment in time. That one extraordinary moment that proved God's great love for us and how believing in Him changes our lives.
Oh, the reality of it is more than can be fathomed by our finite minds. Nothing we do, nothing we think we need, will take the place of the Nativity which is more than enough. I pray that all we need this Christmas is to let God's love dwell in our hearts. "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel' which means, "God with us." Matthew 1:23 fulfilled Isaiah 7:14