Thursday, November 15, 2018

We're Doing Christmas Differently This Year

This month back in November 2015 I wrote about Christmas and explained why the holiday still deserves to be treated by the mass public as the divine, special time of year it deserves to be. No matter how many people stop caring about it, there is always a reason to make a bigger deal out of Christmas.

With that in mind, this one is to explain why my wife and I are doing Christmas differently this year. Each previous year we put a big effort into make the usual things associated with Christmas special; the tree, the gifts, the music, the food and always going above and beyond our usual routine to do some extra nice things for some friends and even a few complete strangers. But this time a few things have happened recently, both horrific and beautifully amazing, that have changed our objectives in our celebration of the birth, life and mission of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Big changes in life often require us to accept that certain things about ourselves - habits, beliefs, attachment to certain traditions - may not entirely align with the will of the Lord for our lives. Such has happened for us this year.

In the last few months we have upped our regular spiritual feast. Our prayers are changing to include more praise, gratitude, sorrow for sin and pleading for God to help us shift our priorities towards things that will change us into a Zion couple. Our fears about Lorraine's health have been steadily diminishing with each passing year because of the spiritual experiences we have had individually and together and we want, more than ever before, to become willing to accept whatever hard changes the Lord is going to ask us to make, to abandon whatever habit, tradition, routine or expectation He asks us to in order to become more like Him.

A few of those things we are changing this year are a part of our Christmas celebration. We'll be cutting back on how much focus we put on gifts, a tree, and "fun stuff" this year and more focus on how much we can do and be for each other and others. We'll be looking for every opportunity to brighten someone's day and #lighttheworld. Jesus made His entire life and still makes everything He does about us and giving us every opportunity to have and become the absolute best and, in doing so, gave us the best possible gift anyone ever could. So, in turn, Lorraine and I are making this Christmas about bringing others as much joy as we possibly we can and making our home a place where people can feel Jesus' love for them strongly enough that they want more than anything to know Him better and want to be like Him, no matter the cost.

How better to celebrate Him on Christmas than to be as much like Him as possible and show love to Him by loving others? We're still going to be doing something with gifting, we have decorations of up course and we did do our usual gingerbread house tradition. However, the more we talk about certain common Christmas traditions, the more I consider with brutal honesty the real reason why I like those traditions, I realize that some of them have been more for me about doing the "generally accepted, fun" Christmas thing than doing it in actual celebration of the birth of my Savior. Some traditions I know for sure are more for the sake of celebrating Him than just for fun, but others are not. In the last few weeks, I have become more willing to abandon some, change others and begin new ones as well, better ones that are more focused on Jesus Christ and helping those around me feel His love.

Just think of how much more amazing this world would be if we truly applied to following counsel from 2 Nephi 32:9 where it says "But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul."

This verse has always served as a reminder for me ask myself the following question with everything I do, "can I do this in Christ's name or not?" In the case of Christmas celebrations, the question changes to "is [insert tradition here] in celebration of the Savior or just because it's fun and everyone else does it?"

Being brutally honest about this question recently has actually been refreshingly awakening.

I invite you to try it as well and I look forward to seeing the positive changes that will hopefully happen within Lorraine and I and in our home. Merry Christmas everyone :)

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