Sunday, December 24, 2006

Coffee Talk:

It's Christmas Eve, and I don't want to talk about war, politics, philosophy, or the true problems with our society. I just can't bring myself to focus on those things this time of year, and that is not necessarily a bad thing.
As we age Christmas seems to age with us, and in each stage of life the Holiday means something entirely different. When you are young this is the most electric time of year, everything is moving and glowing, and the anticipation is almost unbearable. The overwhelming excitement is contagious, but as you grow older the excitement fades and the celebration changes. As a teen, the goal was usually to impress your girlfriend with a nice gift or some kind of surprise. The childhood joy was gone and focus was more spending time with those you care about. Now, in my twenties, with a family, the focus is on trying to foster the joy in my children and make the holiday fun for them. There really isn't anything I am concerned about this season beside the look on my children's faces throughout this season. This joy now is not brought by gifts, but by traditions and time enjoying family.
This week's question is (to whoever maybe reading): Where are you in your Holiday aging process, and what brings you joy during this season? Talk amongst yourselves.


Dan said...

A great topic...I totally agree that everything changes as you grow and mature. I remember the days on Christmas Eve when I didn't want to go to bed, but my mom forced us to. As it turned out, it was to wrap presents and put them under the tree. I remember being so excited and I would wake up any where from 3am to 4:30am just to open presents and see what santa brought and put in my stocking at the end of the bed.

Of course my mom would tell my brother and I to go back to bed when we tried to wake her up @ 4:30am. Probably because she was up until midnight or 1am wrapping.

Then we'd open presents, go to my grandparents (which is now my parents house) and celebrate with family. Then around 4pm or so we'd hop onto a plane to fly to my dad's in Houston. Then we'd get up the next morning and open more presents.

Then as a teenager I remember just trying to please everyone and visit everyone I could. My parents, friends, and other relatives. Just being with them was the most important and getting gifts was just a special treat.

Now, with my wife, it's like it was before. We have more sets of family to see and buy for. This year, being our first Christmas as a married couple was different than all other years. We had Christmas dinner @ our house w/ my grandparents, brother and his girlfriend, and my parents on the 23rd. Christmas Eve Day, my wife and I opened gifts which we bought each other. Which was nice, but it didn't have that magic yet. Then we spent the early afternoon going to my step dad's side of the family for a few hours and then to my wife's family's Christmas at night. Christmas morning we got up and flew to Dallas to my dad's to visit and celebrate Christmas some more.

Now it seems like it's more responsibility than it is Christmas. The magic of wonder and excitement is gone. The thrills of opening gifts aren't there as much as when you were a kid. I could see how having kids would make Christmas more like that, and then getting the excitement from seeing their excitement and wonder. I just don't know if that's what it should be about though.

At my wife's parents, we have a priest as a friend of the family. Every Christmas Eve they hold a mass at my in-laws house where we celebrate Christmas. He's always got something good to say and he talked about this exact same thing. All the wonder, excitement etc. that we all have for Christmas. The exchanging of gifts, the celebrating w/ family and friends. Then he talked about the real reason we celebrate...the birth of Jesus. The day that we celebrate as the birth anyhow and all of the excitement and wonder of his life and all that he has done for all of us, and would do during his life, and death. That's why we celebrate. You don't see signs too much in Illinois about this, but I saw a store sign that put up, "Happy Birthday, Lord!" down here in Texas. I'd expect that in the bible belt, but why not other places?

Christmas should be about celebrating with family and friends. That's what it's about for me and my wife. We want to be with each other and our families. The gifts aren't the most important. But what should be is the celebration and reminder of when Jesus was born and celebrating that with family. I don't know if that's what I did this year, but I think that should be our focus.

I think if I focused on that, my life will be filled with that wonder and excitement again like I had when I was young.

Jason said...

Great Points! It is always a challenge to "balance" (80/20 is ideal) the Christian aspects of Christmas and the mainstream Christmas. What we do is the week leading up to Christmas we read from the Bible, the actual Christmas story and open a small gift. However, on Christmas morning it always seems to be about Santa. I know if I ask any of the kids what is the true meaning of Christmas they will say, "Jesus' Birthday", but when I drive down the street and the ratio of mangers to Santas is 10:1, I don't know. I mean we have a Moose in the yard! It is hard to keep focused on the true meaning of the Holiday with everything else going on around you, but that is the everyday challenge of a Christian.

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