Sunday, November 24, 2013

What Scrooge and I have in common...

I am going to share something for all the world to know. It is something that I'm sometimes afraid to say out loud for fear someone will throw tomatoes at me or write me a hate letter or, worse, call me a "Scrooge" - even though he and I have a little bit in common.

Here it goes...

I'm ready...

1, 2, 3...

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas.

There...I said it.

I can imagine my statement is odd coming from someone who has dedicated an entire blog to Jesus Christ. My statement would be odd coming from almost anyone. Christmas is everyone's favorite time of year.

Don't get me wrong. I do love Christmas. the term "love/hate" does have the word love in it. I love it all. I love the decorations. I love the music (I start listening to Christmas music in August!) I love the parties and presents and, of course, I am most grateful and have the deepest love for the real reason for the season - Jesus Christ. I don't hate Christmas. Let's get that straight. The "love" part is so much greater than the "hate".

But the "hate" part, well, it has given me an opportunity to dig deep and ponder and then turn to the Lord for help and answers.

Let me explain...

The first 21 Christmases of my life were actually kind of sad. My growing up story is one of those "I-grew-up-in-a-single-parent-home-with-no-money" stories. My dad died when I was 5. I am the oldest and have two younger siblings. So, you can see my mom had her hands full. We were on a super duper tight budget and went without a lot of stuff most of the time. Sometimes we didn't even have some basic necessities like hot running water, or heat or a telephone. (That's a necessity to a teenage girl.) Yes, family members helped out. People from church helped out, but there was never enough.

I say that my Christmases were sad because my mom was sad. I was fine. Kids don't know the difference unless they are told.  My mom's sadness about never having much to give us seemed to dampen the Christmas season for me from the time I was very young. Being the oldest, I felt a lot of responsibility so I'm not sure if my siblings feel this same way. This was just my own experience.

Christmas was always bitter sweet.

I often wondered why the world couldn't just stay the same all year round. Why did one time of the year need to be so much about gifts and presents when those who have nothing felt no more sad at Christmas than other times of the year. Does that make sense? The emphases to "help" sometimes rubbed in the fact that we needed help. Wasn't Christmas supposed to be joyful and peaceful? Not sad? I saw then, and I see now, people give their token service for Christmas time so they can check that off on their holiday "to do" list. I wondered why we couldn't just be kind and giving and loving all year round, instead of just one month every year. I did't want to get rid of "why" we celebrate the season, just "how".

Things changed for me when I was 21. I was serving a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. That was when I began to see, really see, what Christmas should be. I began to experience the Christmases of my dreams - and it had nothing to do with presents. You can read about those Christmases here, "The Christmas That Changed My Life"

A couple of Christmases ago, the Spirit taught me another valuable lesson about Christmas, "Dusty Corners, Shoveling Snow and a Christmas Revelation". Basically the lesson was, if we never had Christmas, it would be like never cleaning the house. I clean every day - the same messes every day. It gets frustrating. But what if I stopped cleaning just because I was tired of cleaning the same mess? The mess would be worse. So, Christmas is a time when the citizens of the world clean our hearts of the dust and clutter that has accumulated since the previous year. We clean our hearts and suddenly we see clearly and we love and forgive and share and we all want "Peace on Earth".

Christmas is necessary.
We really do "need a little Christmas".

This year, the Spirit has taught me another lesson. I think it is a pretty cool lesson.

One day I saw a pattern to the holiday season:
Thanksgiving - we thank God for all he has given us.
Christmas - we are reminded of the greatest gift given to us - Jesus Christ
New Year's - we start fresh with new resolve to be a little better than before.

A year later we do it again:
Humble ourselves with gratitude.
Receive the blessings from God
Keep moving forward

It is a principle taught beautifully in Moroni 10: 3-5. Look for the pattern - gratitude, receive, move forward:

Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts

 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. 

Moroni teaches us that before we go to the Lord to receive the desires of our hearts, we should first remember all He has already done for us. This humbles us and fills our hearts with gratitude. Our hearts are soft and then more able to receive the blessings we need. The beautiful, exciting part is that we can do this for everything! " the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of ALL things." So we can go forward with faith and resolve, knowing that we can receive help in every aspect of our lives.

Did the Lord plan that? Did He plan that, at least in the United States (I'm not sure if this same pattern can be found in other countries.) we would have these three holidays in that order? I'm going with the notion that all things happen for a reason.  If we let it, we can use this season as a spring board to improve our lives and come closer to Him.

 Jesus Christ is the reason for this season and every season. Truly He is. Without Him all of this would be pointless. This life would be the end. I'm so glad the Holy Ghost taught me this lesson before Thanksgiving this year. I see the beautiful, spiritual connection between the three holidays. They are a gift to help us be humble, receive more light and knowledge and go forward working toward being a little better next year than we have been this year. All of that is possible because...

 this baby, this gift, this King

grew up to become

this man, this gift, this King.

That love/hate relationship I have with Christmas just became a bit more lop sided on the "love" side. In fact, I don't detect any "hate" part at all.

My new theory doesn't answer all of my questions that I wrote about above, but they don't seem to matter as much. I just need to worry about me, where I am in this process and live the way I know to be true...every month of the year.

I'm so grateful the Savior can help me change. ('cuz I still got a lotta changin' to do!)

So my husband just read my post and said I'm not the first person to come up with this theory.
Glenn Beck, "You must be the change you want to see in the world."


  1. Actually, I don't think you are capable of hating anything or anyone. You find the best in everyone - a talent that I find most amazing. At the same time, I hear the message you are giving.... why can't we be generous all the time and not just at Christmas. I just heard a most frightening statistic. 50% of the earth's population lives on $2.00 a day. Another 20% lives on $1.00 a day. So, 70% of the world is living in extreme poverty. We feel good about ourselves during the holiday season because we were willing to be generous. At the same time, maybe we are not willing to look at the bigger picture or what else we can do year round to truly make a difference.

    I just can't wait for the second coming.

    Your husband,

    P.S. I am so proud of you. I love you.

  2. I've often felt the way you have described in your blog but couldn't quite put it to my mind as to why. Thank you for this post, putting things into light for me.


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