by Martin Schlomer
In 1957, Theodor Seuss Geisel, who was widely known author of children’s books under the pen name Dr. Seuss, published his holiday classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The Grinch was an angry, bitter cave-dwelling catlike creature with a heart that was two sizes too small. He lived on the summit of the snowy Mount Crumpit looking over Whoville, home of the joyful and warm-hearted Whos. Jealous of their joy and Christmas spirit, he hatches a plot to steal their Christmas presents, holiday hams and decorations. In doing so, he would “prevent Christmas from coming.” Despite his success, he discovers that Christmas comes to Whoville just the same. Reality dawns on him that Christmas is more than gifts and decorations! He heart grows three sizes larger and he returns all of the gifts, holiday hams and decorations and he is warmly embraced by all of the Whos in Whoville.
In the current economic times, we hear many friends and strangers who—in the midst of struggling to make financial ends meet—mourn over the thought that there may not be any gifts this year. It is not uncommon to hear them say; “There will not be any Christmas this year.” While they may not have the bad attitude of the Grinch, they share the beliefs of the Grinch: Celebrating Christmas requires—or is greatly enhanced by—opening presents. I must be honest, I like giving and receiving presents as much as the next person. However, is the giving and receiving of gifts the place where the joy of Christmas is most experienced? If so, we need to take some steps back and come up with some creative ideas to change this! The place of where we most experience our joy in this incredible season must be found in slowing down and connecting with Jesus along with family and friends. I offer the following ideas.
- Plan to attend a Christmas Eve Candle Light service. This is a great time to calm our minds, focus our hearts and celebrate the birth of Jesus with family and friends. Elim’s candle light service will be at 7:00. Nursery will be provided for pre-school and under.
- Participate in community family activities that are inexpensive or free. Check out these ideas: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/entertainment/2013449909_holidayfestivals25.html
- As a family, spend some time planning your Christmas meal. The Schlomer family has done this the last two years and it was a lot of fun! Every person is responsible for planning and cooking their part of the meal! Afterwards, everyone helps with the clean up!
- As a family, bake some Christmas cookies and drive around looking at Christmas lights while you eat cookies and drink hot chocolate.
- Bake a cake on Christmas Eve and celebrate Christ’s birthday the next day.
- Buy a couple of new family games to play Christmas Day. Invite another family over for dinner and enjoy a great time of family games.
There are more ideas out there waiting to be discovered! Ask your friends and family. If you have family members who were alive during the depression in the 1930s, ask them to share their stories of how they celebrated the holidays and then incorporate those ideas into some new family traditions! If you don’t have family members who were alive during that era, go to a retirement home and visit some of the residents. Listen to their stories and experiences. In doing so, you have no idea how much joy you will give to them. Celebrating the birth of our Lord is much larger than the giving and receiving of gifts! Go forth and CELEBRATE!