Remember when we used to wait until after Thanksgiving for Christmas decorations to be put up in public places and most homes? Now we start seeing Christmas decorations in September!
I still wait until after Thanksgiving to start decorating our home and do most of my Christmas shopping. The first Sunday of Advent should be the sign for Christians to start preparing the way of the Lord. After all, it’s Christ’s birthday that we are supposed to be celebrating on December 25.
Remembering the spiritual dimension
During all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, we all should remember that the spiritual dimension should take a primary place. It’s hard to remember that while we’re making our lists and checking them twice!
One thing we can do is put up a Nativity set in our homes and even in our offices as our first Christmas decoration. We have put up a Nativity set in our Catholic Herald office, and I have two in my own office as well. It reminds our staff and visitors of the religious importance of the season.
Other suggestions would be to use an Advent calendar or Advent wreath for individual or family prayer services during the weeks before Christmas.
Keep Christ in Christmas
The Knights of Columbus is one organization that makes an effort to remind us of the real reason for the season. Their “Keep Christ in Christmas” program is a campaign to remind people that Christmas is above all a holy day celebrating the birth of Christ.
“Keeping Christ in Christmas is keeping the very heart and meaning of the Christmas celebration alive,” says a statement on the Knights of Columbus Web site (www.kofc.org), which has resources to help anyone interested in keeping Christ in Christmas.
Among their suggestions:
• There are three posters — “Check the List,” “Remember, it’s CHRISTmas,” and “Keep Christ in Christmas” — that promote the order’s “Keep Christ in Christmas” program available from the Supreme Council. These posters can be offered to local parochial schools, religious education classes, and Christian churches.
• Sponsor a “Keep Christ in Christmas” billboard that depicts the Holy Family and the campaign’s slogan. Each year, councils and circles throughout the order display thousands of these billboards.
• Sponsor a “Keep Christ in Christmas” poster or essay contest for students.
• Submit a “Keep Christ in Christmas” advertisement for publication in your parish bulletin or local newspaper.
Give the gift of yourself
This holiday season the Knights of Columbus also suggest giving the gift of yourself within your community and family. Give these or similar presents of friendship, understanding, kindness, love, and compassion:
• Serve or prepare meals at a soup kitchen.
• Bring presents to children or elderly people in the hospital.
• Visit someone who’s shut-in.
• Send a Christmas card to someone you have not seen or talked to in years.
• Invite a friend or neighbor who will be alone to share your Christmas celebration.
• Reconcile with a friend or relative with whom you have quarreled.
• Get the family together to clean out all the closets and dressers. Donate usable clothing, shoes, blankets, and other items to a program for needy families.
• Send care packages to military personnel stationed overseas.
• Sing Christmas carols at nursing homes or hospitals.
• Collect baby clothes, blankets, food, diapers, or money and donate these items to an organization that helps needy people.
• Supply car seats or cradles to underprivileged mothers.
• Sponsor a drive for children to donate their old toys to youngsters.
These are some great ideas to share the Christmas spirit and keep Christ in Christmas.
Needless to say, attending Mass and Eucharistic Adoration and spending time in prayer are other ways we can enhance the spiritual side of the Christmas season.
A blessed Advent and Christmas season to all!