Just Thinking

How to Trade Christmas Chaos for Meaningful Traditions

Merry Christmas | BarbaraAnneWilliams www.bitsofivory.com

I honestly and truly love Christmas.

I don’t love everything that happens this time of year.  The chaos of the season is just too much to take sometimes.

Several years ago, when I was sad that the magic had waned and Christmas had become a bit of a chore, I had an epiphany that saved the season for me.

Peace on Earth?

As I was reflecting one beautiful winter day, I realized that the message of the Christmas angels was one of hope and happiness in a world that was anything but peaceful.

Now when the crowded shops and streets threaten to rob me of my Christmas spirit I remember a Bethlehem so crowded that there wasn’t an inn in the entire city with room for one small family.

While we have no power to curb the tide of commercialism that threatens to overwhelm all around us, we absolutely have power to look up to the heavens for herald angels and guiding stars. 

We can remind ourselves of the deeper meaning and symbolism behind our favorite traditions, and allow them to uplift us and fill our hearts.

More importantly, we can abandon those activities that leave us feeling empty because they hold no deeper meaning for us.

When it comes down to it, that’s all the power we really need in order to take back a beloved holiday.

Favorite Christmas Traditions

Some of my favorite Christmas traditions are from my childhood.  Others have found their way into our celebrations through friends.  I adopted a few treasured traditions when I lived in Italy.  The Italians have a gift for deeply symbolic and beautiful traditions.

Christmas Eve Lasagne is a favorite tradition from northern Italy.  The lasagna noodles represent the swaddling clothes that wrapped the baby Jesus.

I also love the traditional Italian presepi or Nativity scenes.  My favorite scenes include the entire village. With the various villagers working in their shops or completing their daily tasks comes the reminder that the story of the divine birth is for every single person.  It’s our story.

I love Christmas lights.  I especially love the white lights – tiny stars lighting up the snow-covered world – a reminder of the new star leading the magi across the sands.

The traditional carols are my favorite, with words that almost paint a picture. The same words and music that have been sung for generations to celebrate the Savior’s birth tie us to our past.

Which, of course, brings me to one of the most important traditions of all, spending time with family. Whether we’re snuggled up by the fire watching favorite Christmas movies or playing leaf-maze tag with the cousins, family is an essential part of our celebrations.

My mother’s special talent was choosing gifts that fit our interests and personalities perfectly.  They weren’t usually expensive, but they were uniquely tailored especially to us.  I hate to shop, but I enjoy taking the time to choose gifts for loved ones that are meaningful, and reflect how much I treasure them.

My Christmas Wish for You

My Christmas wish for each of you is that you find peace and joy this holiday season, despite the chaos and noise. And may your hearts be filled with hope as we begin a brand new year.

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