First of all, I’m losing my mind over the Associated Press and other news organizations designating all of the “_________ of the decade” distinctions as we come to the end of 2009. The decade isn’t over. When you count to ten, do you start with 0 and end with nine? I didn’t think so. I rest my case. We’ve got another year on the decade. Deal with it. And Lance Armstrong is the athlete of the decade, no matter when it ends.
That said, I’m noticing a little different feeling with the holidays this year. People are cutting back and in the process, focusing on the reason for the season. In the interest of full disclosure, due to our financial implosion of the last couple of years, we’ve scaled back on the holiday spending. And you know what? Life went on. In the process, we focused more on church, on family and friends, and on spiritual development as we await the celebration of the birth of Christ. And the last couple of Christmases have been the best ever.
Last year, we drove to Guanajuato Mexico and celebrated with my Mexican family there, where the focus is on Christmas Eve Mass and family gatherings, rather than presents and fancy decorations and one-upsmanship. We were taken in by a family, participated in a posada (a children’s re-enactment of Mary’s and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem and their search for lodging) and attended the most memorable Christmas Mass of our lives at the glorious Basilica of Our Lady of Guanajuato. The love of our savior and the love for our savior permeated every celebration we attended. We feel blessed to have been embraced by such a wonderful group of people in this most beautiful of Mexican cities.
This year, with Bill in RCIA (the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, which for those of you who are not Catholic, is the process of converting to Catholicism) and us both busy with classes and job searches, as well as dealing with the recent death of his dad, we’ve focused exclusively on the spiritual side of Christmas. I haven’t set foot in a mall, department store, big box store, or gift shop in months. I haven’t bought one present, although I’ve made treats and given them to people I want to share them with. I finally put up the Christmas tree and have the nativity scenes out, but that’s it. And you know what? I feel better about this Christmas than I ever have, because this year, I think we’ve got it right.
Because it’s not about the stuff.
We can buy stuff any time we want. We should reward our friends and loved ones with little gifts and thoughtful acts throughout the year, not just at Christmas and birthdays. We should thank people for their support of us and love for us all year long, not just when society and the media tell us we should. We should tell those people who mean the most to us that they’re special, and an important part of our lives whenever it’s appropriate, not just at holiday time.
In other words, we shouldn’t single out one time of the year to tell people they’re wonderful or to be nice and generous to those less fortunate. We should be this generous, this loving, and this spiritual all year long.
How about that for a 2010 New Year’s resolution? Anybody up for it? I am.