Keeping our focus on the reason for the season Print
Written by Mary Uhler   
Thursday, Dec. 04, 2014 -- 12:00 AM

We have begun the season of Advent, the time when we prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

The religious dimensions of the holiday season seem to be getting diminished more each year. I think all of us need to step back and look at what we’re doing at this time of year.

Not that we can’t be buying Christmas gifts, but that shouldn’t be the only focus of our Christmas preparations. How can we make sure the religious aspects of the season aren’t forgotten?

Here are some suggestions:

1. Be sure to attend Mass during the Advent season, not only on Sundays, but perhaps other times during the week (daily if possible). The Mass readings for this time of year offer special insights for us.

2. In your home, set up an Advent wreath or calendar in addition to a Christmas tree and other holiday decorations.

3. Put up a Nativity scene. Some people hold out the baby Jesus figure until Christmas. We have an old family creche made of plastic, so the grandchildren can play with the figures and not worry about breaking anything.

4. Besides buying gifts, consider setting aside some of your holiday budget to help those in need in our communities. We always give monetary gifts to worthwhile organizations such as the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Charities, and the Cistercian Nuns. Some of these gifts are given in honor or memory of people we know or those who have died. Some people actually prefer these gifts rather than another kind of gift. Also consider giving food or clothing to local pantries and shelters.

Nearly a third of U.S. adults estimate that they will spend $1,000 or more on Christmas gifts. Although gifts are nice, think about what else you can do with your money this year.

5. And last but certainly not least, wish everyone you meet a “Merry Christmas”!