Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ornament Exchange

The other day I was at an Ornament Exchange, a couple of houses down from mine, and a neighbor said to me, "How would men even know it was Christmas without us women?" She continued, "Men would have absolutely no idea it was Christmas if we didn't decorate the house, put up the tree, hang the lights outside, bake and buy the gifts!!"

I am embarrassed to admit that I do not think I handled those comments very well.  Actually, I was holding my tongue quite well until she looked right at me and said, "You know what I mean? Women make Christmas happen."  (or some other such nonsense)
I cannot remember her exact words because I was busy dealing with my physical reaction to her warped, horribly misunderstood, secular view of Christmas. I was feeling very nauseous and starting to lose peripheral vision.
I realized that she was looking right at me and waiting for me to agree and commiserate with her.
I think I stuttered. But I said, "If the men are going to church they know it will soon be Christmas. The liturgy at Mass is all about preparing for Christ and has been for some time now."

Dead silence. You could have heard a pin drop. I think she said something like, "Oh! (with a definite eye roll), You know what I mean."

I did follow up and say to her, "You mean to to tell me you have done all the decorating yourself, Katie? (not her real name, of course). Ralph (not her husband's real name either) didn't help you at all?
Katie repeated her tirade on how she did it all alone. I complimented her on her hard work. Conversation saved but point made.

I do believe I have become the official neighborhood zealot. The one they all talk about as they shake their heads as if to say,  "She'll bring God into it, just wait and see."
Well, guys, I did it again!  I brought GOD into a discussion about CHRISTMAS.

And while we are on the subject of keeping Christ in Christmas . . . .  I want to pass along a nice little list by Fr. Benjamin over at Holy Priesthood. Please note that I have edited.

The Christ Child shows us how life ought to be lived, and that brings into stark contrast, the ways our life falls short of God's plan. Maybe these 6 tips can help us focus on Christ.

1) Make extra time for God. The presents, the decorations, Santa Clause at the mall, have little joy in themselves.  If they bring us a sense of peace it is because they reflect the glow of the Christ Child. Were he to disappear, Christmas would lose its magic (no wonder for many people Christmas lost its magic a decade ago). Reconnect with the wonder of God-made-man in a simple stable, in poverty and love.  Jesus Christ makes Christmas beautiful, the rest is just details.
2) Begin the season of giving by giving away. John the Baptist said "The man who has two tunics should give to the one who has none." Don't just give your old clothes and things, give away all the clothes and things you can do without.  Fewer things to store, move, clean and dust means more time with what matters. Un-cluttering your house gets you in the mood to celebrate Christmas with less distraction (and it could help others!).
3) Turn off the television and keep it off. Holiday advertising tempts you to spend more than you should and forces you to view Christmas from the perspective of commercialism. Does anyone else find it ironic that Charles Schultz's diatribe against a commercialized Christmas is punctuated by advertisements? Watch the Christmas classics on DVD and save your soul. The same goes for print adds and fliers.
4) Trim your gift list as much as possible. If you don't know what to get someone, why try? Call them, take them to lunch, send a thoughtful note, or donate to charity in their honor. If their friendship won't survive a Christmas without a gift, then is it a true friendship? Plan family time together, like baking or decorating or sledding or a craft, as part of your Christmas "gift plan."
5) Enjoy silence. Silence is a precious commodity in this noisy world. Christmas should be a time to get in touch with our deepest need for God, a need which we find in the depths of our soul, but these depths surface in silence.
6) Confession is absolutely essential.


bridget {bake at 350} said...

Great post, Peggy! I like your list of tips.

Thanks for bringing God into the conversation! :) I know I can always use the reminder!

Abbey said...

I wonder why "me?" came to mind as I read this. I am overflowing with my faith .. I'm so happy that it flows from my very being without any effort on my part. I find myself offended by things such as this lady's diatribe, and I'll go one step further ... people call upon the name of God carelessly and inappropriately by the use of "OMG!" and "Oh My God!" as a form of expressing astonishment. If I could tell people one thing, it would be to not throw the Lord's name around when you are astonished at something hysterical, unbelievable, funny, tragic, whatever! Try "oh my gosh" instead. I'm really offended by all of this and I have to bite my tongue online and in the public.

Good one, Soutenous!!

Alexandra said...

I really liked that list! Thanks for sharing.

And good for you for speaking up, and in a manner becoming to Christ. The spirit of Christ is also about having patience with others, to persevere with meekness and Christian witness. There are many people who are simply unchurched. We can't be an instrument of God with unChristlike behavior. Christ is honey, not vinegar.

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