If you’re reading this, WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? How do you have the time this post-Christmas season? Seriously, there are lights to put-up, Christmas parties to tidy up after, presents to play with, thank you cards to send, on top of all of your normal daily activities. Here’s a fun fact for you, death by natural causes spikes on Christmas Day and the day after Christmas so if you’re reading this, you’re one of the lucky few! Researchers are still trying to pin down why, but it’s probably the same reason you see stories of partners dying within a few hours of each other; loneliness, heartbreak, sadness. Christmas (and post-Christmas) is a time of stress, of weight gain, of shattered dreams, of commercialism, so it’s no wonder that the Church stresses John the Baptist’s words.
“STOP,” they yell. “Remember the reason for the season. Keep Christ in Christmas. Look at our pretty purple and pink (ROSE) candles. Spend less time on your trees and more time on your knees. The Incarnation is the most important thing to happen in human history and you’re crying because they’re sold out of tickle-me-Elmo’s?!” And every year it’s an in one ear and out the other time for us. We’re sitting in the pews saying “yes, yes. Advent. Hearts. Candles…oh no! I still haven’t gotten that candle for Aunt Marge. This could be our last Christmas with her, the ole windbag. I should get her two candles. Would she like the vanilla or the cookies flavor? Cookies! Oh, I need to make a batch tonight for Junior’s eighth Christmas party this week. Oh, Father’s done speaking. Better warm up for the next round of calisthenics.”
I’m not judging you, it’s a very natural reaction. Plus the year of mercy is still fresh, so I couldn’t judge you even if it wasn’t a natural reaction. Instead, Santa sent me to help. I’m going to go through some holiday scenarios and teach you how to avoid the naughty list, and maybe we can make this a post-Christmas season to remember! It’s never too early to start on avoiding next year’s naughty list.
Office Gift Exchange
Naughty – Showing up to the gift exchange with a Nicolas Cage Pillow Cover
Don’t get me wrong, I would love to cuddle up with one of these bad boys every night. However, office gift exchanges are a great opportunity for tiny moments of evangelization. I’m not saying you need to get your co-workers a Pope Francis pillow cover, but we are called to bring the Good News to everyone. It’s literally our jobs as Christians, and doing our Christian job at our normal job is a good way to be really, really efficient. Gifting an inspirational book, a religious icon, or even something less Christian and more positive. Spreading joy and inspiration is a good way to win hearts this Christmas season.
What your co-workers might say if you got them that pillow case…
Christmas Morning Gift Frenzy
Naughty – Dodging fists, elbows, and papercuts as gift wrapping flies Christmas morning
Who doesn’t love Christmas morning? Between the smell of fresh cinnamon rolls and piles of presents, Christmas is the only time I’ll wake up before 10am smiling. How can we bring Christ into Christmas morning? Didn’t we go to Mass last night or are planning on going later in the day…what more could you want?! Our Christian experience is built on capitalizing on small moments to bring about an encounter with Christ. I suggest starting the morning in prayer. Pray for those who are lonely, those children who don’t get presents, the homeless, the people who have to work. We don’t want to make Christmas morning a downer, but we do want to provide perspective. I love when my family gathers together to read the Nativity story. Even as a young kid, reading about the Incarnation never doused my excitement for presents and the food to come. It really started the day off right. It became less and less about the presents I had asked for but hadn’t gotten, and became more about what blessings I had.
And that’s if you don’t have any cats.
Naughty – A list of 100+ name brand items seasoned with the tears of child labor
Look, we want what we want. Christmas is the best time of the year to ask for something we’ve wanted but are too cheap to buy ourselves. Look at your list right now – how many of those items are going to help you grow in your faith? We can make excuses for all of them, but how many are on your list with the main purpose to help you grow in your faith? Go ahead and add some! There’s so much amazing literature on any topic of the faith you’re interested in. Maybe you need a killer new rosary, or a Bible (since yours is SO worn out from reading and highlighting). Maybe you know your local youth group or adult ministries is really hurting for a news something or other and you want to contribute to that. Maybe you need to find a new way to pray that incorporates technology but eliminates the distractions and pop-ups we face as we Laudate away on our iPhones. *Looks around* Now if there was only somewhere we could find that…