Advent is just a few short weeks away, and soon we will be celebrating the Christmas Season, although the commercial Christmas season will begin the day after Thanksgiving. In fact, for many retail outlets, the commercial Christmas season is already underway. Many stores couldn’t wait to put away the Halloween merchandise and replace it with Christmas displays, and many of us are already thinking about Christmas lists and shopping.
As we approach Thanksgiving and Advent, our focus, however, ought to be on preparing for the birth of Jesus Christ. The interplay between the commercial aspects of the season and the spiritual aspects of Advent and Christmas show us how important it is to be grounded in a stewardship way of life. Virtue stands in the middle, and in this context, somewhere between Santa Claus and Scrooge. Living a stewardship way of life helps us to keep our focus on the birth of Christ.
What I mean to say is that we can celebrate Advent and Christmas in a spiritual way if keep our focus clear. Preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ by gift giving can be a very good thing. If our motive for gift giving is to commemorate God’s greatest gift to us, His only Son, then we are on the right path. Our gift giving is in imitation of God’s gift to us.
Someone said recently that the new American dream is to spend money we don’t have, on things we don’t need, to keep up with people we don’t even like. So, our focus in gift giving goes askew when we max out our credit cards in order to buy an overabundance of gifts, because everyone else is doing it. If we did that, our celebration of Christmas really would be out of order. So how do we keep our focus on the birth of Christ?
Most Catholics attend Mass on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Taking part in the Mass is certainly the best way to keep our focus clear. Other times of prayer, especially family prayers, are also a great help during this season. Many families have the custom of lighting an Advent wreath or decorating a Christmas nativity scene. The Christmas Eve or Christmas Day meal is also a good time for praying together as a family.
A good steward realizes that everything he or she has comes from God, thanks God for His many blessings, and returns God’s gifts with increase. The Advent and Christmas Season allow us to do just this many times over.