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How to Have a Fulfilling Christmas in 2017
This time of year tends to be filled with a lot of fluff - superficial distractions from the hard times in our lives. For some, these distractions are why the Christmas season is the "Most Wonderful Time of the Year": after all, they help us to forget about things like politics and emergency rooms, right? Wrong. Outlandish as it might sound, gifts like a $25 dollar gift card to Starbucks aren't going to make your problems go away. Even larger gifts like - humor me for a second - a brand new car would only dull the pain for a few moments at most. Those of us who are just trying to distract ourselves from real life are doing Christmas wrong; this is the perfect season to find true healing, something you can't find on a Store Shelf or an Amazon Wishlist.
So, how do we do Christmas right? Well, for starters, we need to stop putting so much emphasis on gifts and gift-giving. I know, a crazy idea - and believe me, I appreciate Christmas gifts as much as the next guy - but the incredible pressure we put ourselves under to give great gifts, and the pressure we put our family and friends under to give us great gifts is growing toxic. The best example of this toxicity is Black Friday: every year, only a day after Thanksgiving (a holiday about spending time with family), millions of people stand and wait in long lines and fight other people over heavily discounted products. I mean, come on guys - there's no way that anyone needs anything in those sales so much that they have to literally put themselves in harms way just to get it a few dollars cheaper. We need to take a moment to realize that many of the things that we get each other for Christmas - toys, games, movies, books - are just fluff, and that we can live without them. Put more thought into what the people around you need, and consider giving them a gift of that nature instead. Trust me, that gift will more likely than not see far more use than anything in a Black Friday discount display.
Next, as I alluded to earlier, we need to think of more fulfilling things to give our loved ones for the holidays. Sure, it's perfectly acceptable to give fun little gifts to children, siblings, parents, or friends, but what about other gifts? What about the gift of forgiveness? Many of us are about to wake up on Christmas morning still harboring anger towards a relative or loved one, maybe anger that has lasted since many Christmases before. Giving a gift to that relative by letting them back into your life and forgiving them will in turn be a gift to you.
What about the gift of comfort? The holiday season can serve as a reminder to many of pain in their lives. Some are spending their first Christmas without a lost loved one. Some might be facing life-threatening illness and, while still grieving, scrambling to make sure their affairs are in order. And some people - more than you may realize - may be spending Christmas all alone. Be there for those that are hurting this holiday. If those people are in your family, then love on them as much as you can during the family get-together; and if those people aren't in your family, invite them over to your Christmas dinner, and let them be a part of your family. Show love to those around you this holiday season.
There is one gift, however, that rises above any gift anyone could possibly give. This Christmas, consider sharing the gift of Jesus Christ. I know, it seems crazy to talk about Christ on a holiday totally dedicated to his birthday, but here I go anyways: it's no secret that Christmas tends to be a good day for Church services. This seems to be the season where people need faith the most, though most people don't seem to understand why. Can I offer my opinion? This isn't the season where people need faith the most, people need faith consistently throughout the year: this is just when they're most likely to realize it.
Now, I'm not interested in engaging any kind of religious debate about this: if you're adamant about not believing in God, then that's your life: I'm not here to tell anyone how they should live their lives. What I am trying to do, however, is to offer the potential for fulfillment this Christmas. The truth is, you don't need a fancy Christmas tree, sparkling lights, or expensive presents to have the perfect Christmas. The perfect Christmas is all about the gifts that we give one another that don't cost any money at all, but that make us rich in spirit - "riches in heaven," as Jesus referred to it. Invest in your loved ones this holiday season, and open up your heart to the true reason for the season. I guarantee you, it will be a very Merry Christmas if you do.