"These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you shall have distress: but have confidence, I have overcome the world."
"Live like no one else so you can live (and give) like no one else."
"It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!" Sometimes. "Walking in a Winter Wonderland." Actually, it's been one of the warmest Holiday seasons I can remember (I'm not complaining, mind you). "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." It's barely Advent! In the course of general, every-day errands, I've had occasion to hear all these songs and more in the last two weeks; frantically urging me to get in the "Holiday Spirit" and SPEND already! Give, Give, GIVE to everyone I know, the bigger (i.e. more expensive) present the better, so they will be sure to they're loved.
Guess what? Love cannot be bought.
I have been struggling with the world's notion of the Holiday season this year. Everything is so rushed, so materialistic, so meaningless. Our consumer-driven society simply adds to this sense.
My husband and I recently completed Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. We are valiantly trying to get our fiscal house in order. This time of year is especially tough for me to do that because I am by nature a generous, giving person. I LOVE to find just the right gift(s) for the special people in my life; imagining their joy in receiving this well-thought-out choice. So the frenetic pace of Christmas-upon-us and the turtle-speed of our Baby Steps is discouraging to me. And we're trying to have a less expensive Christmas; so I'm left with a general enviousness. A dis-satisfaction. Not good. After all, that's not what this season is about, anyway.
I really like celebrating Advent. A time of waiting, anticipation, looking forward to the birth of the Lord. And to His second-coming. We "build-a-tree"; putting a few purple ornaments per evening on it (one per child). On Gaudete Sunday we start putting pink ornaments on the tree. Usually we cannot wait until Christmas Eve to fully decorate the tree, but it's always the last week of Advent. We light our wreath, with readings and "O Come, O Come Emmanuel". We do a few service projects as a family (we can always give, even if not monetarily).
Our family is getting used to being... counter-cultural. We are a "large" nuclear-family who truly enjoys the company of each other. We homeschool. We live on one income. We make nearly all our meals (including bread, yogurt, etc.) from scratch. We are faithful Catholics. We celebrate Advent before Christmas. We do not have credit cards. This list could probably go on...we do not want to be like the world at large.
With God's grace, we don't have to be like the world. Christ has overcome the world. Our goal is to model Christ. This has been extremely comforting to me as I try to stop struggling with what "I" want to do, to give, to buy and focus instead on the true meaning of and pace of this season.