From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Everyday Grace: What do you want for Christmas?

by Lori Fontana

(From the Nov. 15, 2001 edition of the Inland Register)

Christmas is coming. That age-old question arises: “Kids, what do you want for Christmas?”

And we parents — what do we really want for Christmas?

We want family togetherness; we get crowded shopping malls. We want peace on earth; we get stressed over buying (and then paying for) the right gift. We want to celebrate and be happy, but to tell the truth, aren’t we all pretty tired and cranky by Dec. 25?

My husband and I are recovering Christmas junkies. In our younger years, we wanted the perfect Christmas for our family, whatever that might be. We wore ourselves out struggling to complete our lovely homemade Christmas gifts, because my husband was convinced that “homemade” was so much more in keeping with the “true spirit of Christmas.”

We tried to do all the good prayer things with our little children: Advent wreath, Advent calendar, Jesse tree, Advent angels, family prayer, family rosary, tree blessing, manger blessing. And we didn’t have much money to spend on the children’s gifts, but by golly, those few gifts would be absolutely perfect. Advent and Christmas became for us just a blur of “holy activity.”

We needed a reality check. Let’s face it: none of us can have it all, at any time and most especially at Christmas. We have to pick and choose what we want from the holidays for our families. We need a Christmas plan!

Sit down with your family. Make it an inviting time, perhaps some Christmas music softly playing, mugs of hot chocolate for everyone. Decide together, before the Christmas rush sets in, what your favorite Christmas traditions are. Then decide what you can realistically do without sending your family to the brink of insanity and exhaustion.

Don’t be afraid to say “no” to some very good things. The activities you do keep will be more enjoyable and relaxed. Take a deep breath and remember that you can’t do it all, and it won’t be the end of the world if you don’t make Aunt Josie’s famous fruitcake for all the relatives this year. “Christmas will come, it will come just the same,” as every Who in Whoville knows and as the Grinch himself found out.

Christmas can be a happy and holy holiday. We can know peace and prayer and the love of God born in Jesus. Our children can be drawn right into the middle of that love and peace if we make realistic choices about our holiday celebrations. I think that what our children want most from Christmas is our love and attention. They want to know that we value them just for who they are. Isn’t that the very message that Jesus came to give us all?

Here’s a list to get your family started on planning your Advent/Christmas season. Remember, you can’t choose everything!

  • Shopping for gifts
  • Making gifts
  • Wrapping gifts
  • Mailing gifts
  • Grocery shopping
  • Christmas cookies
  • Christmas dinner
  • Writing cards
  • Making cards
  • Mailing cards
  • Sewing
  • Cleaning
  • School Christmas program
  • Church Christmas program
  • Community Christmas program
  • Get the tree
  • Cut the tree
  • Decorate the tree
  • Decorate the house
  • See the Christmas lights
  • Attend the town tree lighting
  • Old Christmas favorite videos
  • New Christmas movie releases
  • TV Christmas specials
  • Office party
  • Neighborhood party
  • Family party
  • Travel arrangements
  • Packing
  • Personal prayer
  • Family prayer
  • Advent wreath
  • Advent calendar
  • Jesse Tree
  • Sunday Mass
  • Daily Mass
  • Small group sharing
  • The Giving Tree
  • Food baskets
  • Evening prayer at the parish
  • Wrapping gifts for St. Vincent de Paul
  • Ecumenical prayer services
  • Christmas caroling
  • Christmas creche
  • Blessing the Christmas tree
  • Family rosary
  • Visiting relatives
  • Visiting the nursing home
  • Holy hour of adoration
  • Las Posadas
  • Immaculate Conception celebration
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration
  • St. Nicholas Day
  • Christmas Eve Mass
  • Christmas Day Mass
  • What else?

    I encourage you to take an hour now to plan the Christmas season with your family. Shortening your “to do list” is one path to more peace during the holidays. After all, the real “reason for the season” is the Incarnation — our great and loving God becoming a human being to show such boundless love for each one of us.

    (Lori Fontana works in evangelization ministry for the Diocese of Yakima.)

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