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Old 11-24-2002, 10:30 AM   #1
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You Won't Find Jesus At The Mall...

My Pastor was talking about this yesterday..how the season is upon us, and how to take the focus off of all the commercialism, etc.

How do you do this at this time of year? I find myself distracted sometimes, and not just by this. The holidays for me just bring up other issues, and often I lose focus and start to feel depressed. I think if I could maintain my focus where it belongs, maybe this year wouldn't be so tough.

So other than reading The Bible or other more traditional methods, does anyone have any other advice? I know I also should get involved in some volunteer work, which I will try to do. I already do some things through my church.
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Old 11-24-2002, 12:42 PM   #2
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Last year my church did a program all through December from a book called "Unplugging the Christmas Machine." It had exercises for you to get in touch with what you really valued about the holidays, suggestions for how to downsize gift-giving-pressure, tips on how to talk to family members who heap expectations on you that everything has to be "perfect" etc.

We even took a pledge from the book about focusing on our spirituality, giving priority to what was really important to us, and showing love in personal ways instead of just by spending money, etc.

I think a lot of people found it really helpful.
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Old 11-24-2002, 03:58 PM   #3
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Something our family does, even now that we're older, is to write a "Letter to Jesus" (instead of a letter to Santa). I think it helps us to put things into perspective, and to remember what this season is really supposed to be about. We have the choice to read them aloud if we want, I think I've always kept mine private, and we put them under the Christmas tree. My mom kept all of mine and then gave them to me a few years ago when I had my first Christmas after being married. It was neat to look back at how my priorities and desires over the years have changed. I can tell that there were a few years where I really was not crazy about having to do the letter, but I'm really glad that this is a tradition that we have kept. I guess it's just a nice way to physically acknowledge who He is, what He's done for us, and to let Him know the desires of our heart.

I know alot of us here don't have kids yet, but there was an idea I read about recently that we will probably implement when we do have kids in a few years. It suggested modeling gift-giving after the 3 gifts that were brought when Jesus was born - obviously this doesn't mean giving your kids gold, frankincense, and myrrh! But in giving just 3 nice gifts, the kids know what to expect, they really think through the gifts they want instead of just marking every page in the Sears catalog, and the focus remains on Christ. It would give them the opportunity to share about Jesus if other kids ask why they only got 3 presents.

One other idea I came across that I think I'm going to try this year, to help make my shopping a more pleasant experience.....bringing ornaments with me when I'm out to give to the people that help me. I'll pick up a few from a dollar store and attach a verse relating to the true meaning of Christmas. The idea is to help keep me accountable for my attitude toward others - I can't very well gripe about the slow service and then try to give them a spiritually significant gift! It's also a way to 'love my neighbor', and help them feel valuable and appreciated, maybe even plant a seed.

Hang in there Gina
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Old 11-24-2002, 07:08 PM   #4
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One thing that got us back in focus was, instead of buying and mailing gifts to family memebers spread across the country, we each picked the name of another family member and prayed for them daily for at least a month. We ended up drawing closer to each other as we were in constant contact to get prayer requests and to learn how God answered prayer.

Isn't it interesting, however, how two of our most innocent icons (Santa and the Easter Bunny) can draw our focus away from the true meaning of these Christian observances.
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Old 11-25-2002, 11:37 AM   #5
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Bonosloveslave, love the ideas.

My family and I have always downplayed the gift giving, so for me the holidays are so much less about financial stress and shopping pressure. We all love to gather the family together and sit together and drink hot chocolate. It's all about family, togetherness, and relaxation and pondering the real meaning of Christmas.

Christmas morning we open our gifts (what few are there!) and before that my father reads the Christmas story. Christmas Eve we go to a midnight candle service which is very beautiful.

I love Christmas time, but I would hate it if it was some debt accumulating event.

For all of you stressed out, I would suggest minimizing the gift giving. I realize gifts are part of giving, and part of the Christmas spirit, but learn to draw the line. Suggest name drawing instead. You can always say, "let's each donate to our favourite charity privately instead." It'll probably a big relief to the other people, too!
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Old 11-25-2002, 12:22 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone for your ideas

But part of the problem is family issues Issues that are very complicated and impossible to just "forget" at Christmas time, even though of course I know that in the spirit of the holiday, I should. It's all very complicated and painful...People are very fortunate who don't have these issues, but I also think maybe there is an unrealistic image of family life during the holiday season.

I've accepted reality a long time ago, but of course it still hurts. I will just do the best I can as I try to do every year.
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Old 11-25-2002, 01:09 PM   #7
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Gina,

One thing I do for Christmas concern the cards sent out. Rather than get a generic "seasons greetings" card I like to get one that encaptures what Christmas means to me, and how God is present in our lives.

Other things that just come to mind, not thinking about family or anyone else from the outside, is keeping a gratitude journal. Often the way to reconnect with Christmas and what it really means I've found is to reconnect with myself and what Jesus means to me. Perhaps during a particularly stressful or knottoed-ribbon or screaming-children-in-crowded-malls moment, pause and sit down somewhere, deep breaths and say a little prayer to help God remind you why you're doing this, if not why everyone else is.

If family or certain friends can't bring you happiness during this season this may be the perfect opportunity to start new traditions with more encouraging people in your life, or like you said volunteering and helping others.

You're in my prayers for a wonderful transforming Christmas season Gina.
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Old 11-25-2002, 03:47 PM   #8
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Thank you Carrie-that was beautiful

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Old 11-26-2002, 01:24 AM   #9
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Been praying about this....

One tradition we've adopted are Adornaments. They are simple decorations for a tree, each one representing a name of Christ. Light of this World, the Bread of Life, King of Kings, etc. We read the scripture for each name, discuss what that means to us, then my son will hang it on our tree.

Peace and joy.
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Old 11-26-2002, 07:53 PM   #10
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This is a nice thread...a really nice thread...

I don't come to this forum often, but I should stop by more.
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Old 11-27-2002, 02:53 PM   #11
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Gina,

While I cannot understand firsthand, I believe I have an idea what you are talking about.

Christmastime brings the most suicides, the worst memories, depression, and the loneliest times for people. This is actually proven by statistics. If anything ever happened to someone's loved one, it is severely and painfully magnified at Christmastime. Christmas is very hard on those who have difficult family situations.

I don't know what to say, Gina, except that you are not alone and I'm sorry the holidays can bring some tough times for you. I really hope you are able to focus on holiday experiences that bring you joy and peace. May the Lord give you the most wonderful Christmas you have ever had!
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Old 11-28-2002, 08:58 AM   #12
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To keep myself focused on the real meaning of Christmas I like to watch movies about the life of Jesus ( might sound sappy but it works). One of the churches here puts out a big outdoor nativity display, it's all lit up at night and very peaceful. I will often stop by and just look at it. Every year I get all excited for Christmas Eve because they don't put Jesus in the manger until then.

Another thing I do with my family is each year we select somebody in need and do something nice for them, like buy them warm clothes or food, whatever it is they need. This year on top of that we are going to get a bunch of inexpensive blankets, toys and food to donate to the animal shelter in my old dog's memory.

Things lilke that give me the warm fuzzies that this time of year is supposed to bring. For me, doing something nice makes me feel closer to Jesus, and that is really what Christmas is all about.

I hope things work out for you Gina. Try to find something that makes you feel good and stick with it, maybe it will help. You will be in my prayers
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