Can this really be the Christmas season already? I have been caught unawares, and I must admit that I am not ready.


To be honest, I’ve always had trouble with those organized folks who have had their Christmas shopping done since Labor Day, whose wrapping was finished by Halloween. There must be something wrong with them; they must suffer from some strange personality disorder. It’s just not normal.


I do try to finish my shopping before Christmas Eve, since I have four candlelight services to do. Four o’clock Dec. 24 is my deadline. If you can’t identify with me on this, you needn’t bother to read the rest of this column, for this is a word for people like me.


The downside to my Christmas schedule is that it brings with it the challenge of finding the peace and meaning of it all in the midst of the hurry and scurry of the season. With the shopping to do, the special events, the invitations, the decorating and all the accoutrements of Christmas, it is difficult to find our way to the “Silent Night” and the peace of the holidays. It’s not only true for us Christians; a Jewish friend has told me that the frenzy of the season has also become true for his Hanukah. At least we’re all in this together.


So I’ve thought of a few ideas for how I can find my way to some of the peace of this special season. Perhaps, if I “practice what I preach,” I can rediscover some of the serenity I am in danger of losing in the shuffle.


Simplify. In thinking about our gift-giving, our family realized that we have become “stuck in a rut.” We each make a list of gifts we could use, then exchange lists and buy each other things we really don’t need. This year we have decided to give Christmas to a family whose needs are greater than ours. That will be our gift to each other — the joy of helping.


Control the calendar. This year we’re not going to fill up our days. There are so many things we want to do and places we want to go, but if we do them all, we will crowd out Christmas. This year we’re going to try to reserve some quiet evenings to let the spirit of the season seep into our frenzied lives.


Worship. This year we want to concentrate on the true meaning of the season, making use of opportunities for quiet worship, contemplative prayer, and the message of the scriptures, to stay centered on the promise and peace of the season.


I’ve come to the end of my page, so I’ll suggest that you finish the list. Hopefully you’ll join me in living a different holiday season this year and find your way to the true meaning of it all.


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