As Christmas approaches, little children get very excited. For them Christmas comes slowly. For adults it comes very fast. They can hardly wait for Santa to arrive and to open their gifts. I remember Christmas Eve very well as a child. My parents would be wrapping gifts in the kitchen and we would go off to bed anxiously awaiting the arrival of Christmas morn. We attended early Mass and ate breakfast, all before we could open our gifts. Advent is the Church’s liturgical season of joyfully anticipating the coming of Christ. We await the spiritual coming of Christ in Christmas, and the Church remind us further that the Lord Jesus will indeed come again in His glory to judge the living and the dead. The Son of Man will come, as Luke says, in power and glory. Our redemption will be at hand.
The weeks before Christmas are very busy. There is so much preparation in buying gifts, decorating the tree, preparing for Christmas dinner, deciding how and where and with whom to celebrate the Day. Advent is a time of liturgical preparation. How do we best prepare to celebrate the spiritual but very real coming of Christ in Christmas? How do we prepare to meet the Lord when He comes to be born for us?
I would like to offer one suggestions for this year’s Christmas celebration. It is getting into the Spirit of Christmas, which is sharing in love. It is sad that these days we put more attention on ourselves than giving out more. The true joy of Christmas comes from God himself gifting his only son to humanity. We are therefore able to enjoy Christmas better when we are able to share it with others especially the less privileged, the marginalized and the aged in the society.
There is a very lovely tradition in Sacred Heart Church in Bedford, USA, (a church that I served) with setting up the Christmas tree. They set up the Christmas tree at the beginning of advent and bring all kinds of gifts (winter Huts, gloves, food items) for food pantry in town. This brings to mind an old custom in Germany.
In Germany, they decorate the first Christmas trees with edibles and things, such as gingerbread and gold covered apples. Then glassmakers made special small ornaments similar to some of the decorations used today. In 1605, an unknown German wrote “At Christmas they set up fir trees in the parlors of Strasbourg and hang thereon roses cut out of many-colored paper, apples, wafers, gold foil, sweets, etc.” These gifts items becomes gifts for the poor to enable them have a feel of the joy of Christmas.
How we preparing for this coming Christmas? Do you have other people in your plans? Remember, what you did for the least of these ones, you did for me (Matt. 25:40). May this year’s celebration of Christmas bring love to those who have no one to care for them.