The weather is turning colder and with the final month of the year is steadily ticking away. I find myself doing a mad dance, balancing work, family and my personal life. It seems as if the hours of the day are shorter, since I never have enough time to get anything done. Stress mounts quickly when, instead, I should be taking time to cherish and love those around me.
The Christmas season is one of the busiest times of the year. One that leaves almost everyone just a little bit dizzy. We have shopping lists of presents to buy, Christmas parties to get dressed up for, and family gatherings to attend. At times it can be a lot to handle, and all to easily we lose sight of the things that really matter to us.
All too often during Christmas, what we often lose sight of is hope. The things that drive us and make us who we are. At a time when we should be focusing on being our best selves, we allow consumerism to take over. We have to give the biggest, most bestest present. We need to receive that one special gift. Everything needs to be perfect in every way, or Christmas is ruined. I know I thought this way as a child. I gleefully jumped on my new bike, or tearing open the last present to reveal the Super Nintendo, and I would declare that Christmas to be the best Christmas ever. My hope was on those presents! What was under the shiny wrapping paper and pretty bows mattered more than anything else in the world.
Today I am much older, and hopefully a little bit wiser, I realize that the world is a pretty big place. Life is a bit unexpected. I remember people telling me during this time of year that as a Christian my hope should be in Christ, as if I am taking a treasure and storing it away. These days I am realizing that hope is not a passive word. In fact, none of the themes of Advent are passive, they all require effort on our part. Much like a dream, hope is not merely a fancy wish. It doesn’t just come about all on its own. For those of us who place their hope in the birth of a small baby on Christmas, we cannot just sit in the pews, gave platitudes to one another, sing a few carols and pat ourselves on the back. There’s work on this earth that needs doing. Regardless of your religious affiliation, we should roll up our sleeves and do as Christ would do, help those nearest us. So many people in our lives are in need of simple things, like food and water. A mug of something warm. A change of clothes. A hug. A helping hand. An ear to listen. A smile. It doesn’t take much to change someone else’s world.
No longer do I hope to get the best present under the tree. No longer do I live to receive. I want to give back to those around me with what little I do have. I dream of a world where everyone can spend Christmas warm and cozy, with enough food in their belly to be satisfied. A world in which everyone gets to spend Christmas with those who love them. Where everyone can be accepted and loved just for who they are. Where families are not split because of another person’s perceived failings. Where love matters more than anything else in the world. That is what I hope in. That is what helps keep me balanced when this world seems upside down.