One of my friends in Michigan commented on Facebook yesterday that it didn’t “feel like Christmas” because it was 50*F, rather than snowy and cold. Others quickly chimed in, and were either happy that it was (comparatively speaking) so warm, or disappointed that it wasn’t expected to be a snowy white Christmas.
For those of us who live where the weather is warm this time of year, we are enjoying the beautiful sunshine and appreciating the unique ways people decorate for the season. I am frequently astounded at the fun, beautiful, and creative sand sculptures I see when walking the beach.
The nativity scene above not only includes Mary, Joseph, and the infant Jesus, but animals, shepherds, an angel, and the neighboring inn. I love the way that the sculptor made use of debris on the beach to create the beautiful Christmas scene. They took what was around them, what some might have ignored, or considered trash, and turned it into something beautiful, sharing their faith with others.
Holidays in general, and Christmas in particular, can sometimes feel challenging. It is a time when families and loved ones gather together to celebrate Christ’s birth. But if you’re mourning a loved one, or separated from family, or struggling financially, dealing with health issues, or feeling a little lost or overwhelmed, it might not feel like a happy time of celebration. We might think that we’re the only ones that feel this way. But I think we all have at least a few of these concerns on our minds.
I certainly miss my Dad, and his funny, sort of Bah Humbug! sense of humor (and matching Christmas hat). 🙂 I miss my grandparents, and their sweetness, and sense of fun and excitement to see and spend time with everyone.
I wish my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter didn’t live so far away. And I wish that they could be here for Christmas. Who wouldn’t want to see the excitement on their grandchild’s face at Christmas? But we’ll have to make do with Facetime and photos. (Including slightly fuzzy Facetime photos!)
I think most of us have a financial or health concern of some kind. Whether it is our own finances or health, or concern for the struggles, and mental or physical health of people we care about.
I encourage you to look beyond, and let go of your struggles and concerns. Spend some quiet time in prayer. Remember why we celebrate Christmas. Because Jesus was born into this world to save us from our sins. We do not have to struggle through life alone. In fact, life is so much easier and better when we don’t!
When we reach out in love, with kindness for others, when we look for things to be grateful for, when we open our hearts and turn to God, relying on Him for hope and help, peace and joy start trickling into our life and heart. I encourage you to go to Mass, to let the beautiful Christmas hymns wash over you, and open your heart and ears to listening for God. He is always there, waiting to welcome you into His love. Give yourself the Christmas gift of the time and opportunity to feel that love.
Whether you are knee deep in snow, or strolling the sandy shores, I wish you a Merry Christmas wherever you are!