Trying For A Simple Christmas

Susan Page
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Wednesday - December 21, 2005
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It’s just a few more days till Santa Claus circumnavigates the globe in his reindeer-powered sleigh. Children under the age of - well, what is it now, 6? - who still believe will be excited out of their minds as they fall asleep on Christmas Eve.

Ah, to be a child again - to imagine all the possibilities. Will Santa land on the roof or in the driveway? We don’t have a chimney, will he still come? I was pretty nice this year, but will he remember those times I was naughty and pouted and shouted and scratch me off his list? I hope I hear the reindeer.

When you’re a child you don’t have meltdowns over the stress of the holidays. You just melt into the wonder of it all.

But nowadays everyone I know gets stressed out at Christmas. Ah, to be an adult - to imagine all the possibilities. Will the MP3 player for Johnny be the right one? Are our credit cards maxed out? Can I stand one more traffic jam or post office line? Will the mailed packages arrive on time? Does the house measure up? Do we need one more poinsettia? Did I forget somebody? The twinkle lights went out again! Expletives!

Many can’t wait for the “season” to just be done. And isn’t that ironic when Christmas is supposed to be about love, peace, joy and goodwill?

Every year at this time, I have to remind myself over and over again what we’re celebrating here: the birth of Jesus Christ, whose life changed the world forever. In a quiet, simple little barn, the holy child was born to simple folk who had simple faith in God. The shepherds were just simple local boys out in a pasture on a starlit night minding their own business - sheep - when angels suddenly appeared giving them the good news. Yes, there was a big celestial party, but it wasn’t stressful, it was joyous - and simple.

Every year, I try to simplify during the Christmas season, but I still get caught up in all the mayhem of shopping, commercialism, and stress. It’s a bad habit.

Like a child, I have dreams. I see me just saying no. No to anything hectic. No to impersonal, generic holiday season cards to clients, no to over spending, no to worry over who or what I’ve forgotten, no to lines and traffic. And to say yes to making the Nativity the focal point of decorating. Yes to remembering the poor and lonely - year round. Yes to forgiveness, peace, and love.

In the Bible’s New Testament book of Matthew, Chapter 2, we’re told of the Magi - the three “wise men” from another land. They followed a bright star, traveling a long distance, probably on camels, after hearing of the birth of the new King of the of the Jews who would rule over heaven and earth as had been prophesied in the old testament. “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.” When they found Him they “fell down and worshipped Him.” Then, last “they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense and myrrh.”

I have come to realize that for me the process of buying and giving gifts is not the cause of stress. The priority is. Like the wise men, first rejoice with great joy, then fall down and worship Him, and finally - present the gifts. Sometimes don’t we get the order wrong?

Have a blessed and simple Christmas. And, don’t forget to leave Santa a cookie over by the Nativity.

Two simple last minute gift ideas if you’re still looking: Music!

1) The CD Leon Sings Noel ... A Christmas Album about Christ, by local vocalist, Leon Williams and the LeonNoel Chamber Orchestra. His spectacular voice and the unique arrangements - even a little New Orleans jazz sound on a couple - are just a thrill to hear.

2) The CD Hawaiian Islands Lullaby Collection by Friends of Aloha, who won a Hawaii Music award for their Patriotic Slack Key CD. What genius! They’re lullabies from 20 of the “rainbow of cultures” here in Hawaii: Hawaiian, English, Irish, American, Russian, Norwegian, German, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Puerto Rican, Okinawan, African, Korean, Filipino, Spanish, Samoan, Maori, Vietnamese and Balinese. For a new baby or for anyone who needs calming music.

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