Christmas: Season of Light

November 19 2015 | by

ONE OF THE universal images of Christmas is light. During December people all around the world place lights over their holiday tree, on their homes, and in their windows. The first link between light and Christmas came from the ancient Jewish prophet Isaiah, who had this vision for the future: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness

a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2). Centuries later Isaiah’s statement was directly connected to the birth of Jesus by the disciple John, who said that his life brought light to everyone, and added, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it” (John 1:4-5). Christmas is a season of light. Here are some ways to brighten that light for yourself as well as for others.


Return a past kindness


Think of someone who was kind to you in the past. Reach out to that person and return ‘in kind’ to him or her. Your action of kindness returned will become an unforgettable blessing. One such heartwarming experience is related by writer Daphne Rose Kingma. In her book, The Ten Things To Do When Your Life Falls Apart, she tells of walking along a beach near her home. The path that leads to the beach ends abruptly, requiring a person to jump down several feet in order to reach the sand below. One day when she was on that route, Ms Kingma saw a group of men neatly lined up passing stones, hand over hand, to one another. Then, some of the men packed the stones into rows on the sand carefully covering them with more sand, creating a gently sloping walkway from the path above to the sandy beach below. Intrigued, she asked why the men were engaged in the project. One of the young men explained they were doing it for an elderly woman, 93 years of age. The woman had been kind to the men when they were teenagers, acting as a grandmother to them during their turbulent teen years. The woman had recently been diagnosed with a life threatening illness, was in hospice, and made a last request asking if they could take her down to the beach to enjoy one last ocean sunset. The young men explained that they built the pathway because their ‘grandmother’ was in a wheel chair. In a few minutes they were going to get her from the hospice and wheel her down to the water’s edge to celebrate the sunset together.


Practice forgiveness


St. Paul advised, “Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). If there is a family member who has offended you in some way consider letting it go and extending forgiveness. If there is a distant relative or friend who was hurt by something you did or said, consider extending an apology and seeking forgiveness. Christmas is the ideal time of year to establish reconciliation. Forgiveness was the December wish of writer Alice Camille who said, “If I’m on your gift giving list this year, let me speak plainly: All I want for Christmas is to get off the hook. I don’t want another blender. I don’t need another sweater. I just need forgiveness – to give and receive it. So let’s call a moratorium on things wrapped in paper and give the gift of forgiveness instead. Let’s not hand out goodie baskets to make us all fatter, gadgets that drain more electricity, or white-elephant marvels to harvest dust on shelves. Let’s try forgiveness instead. Because it’s the one thing we all could use. It has zero calories. It’s one-size-fits-all.”


Be a secret Santa


Spread the spirit of giving to someone you would not normally have on your Christmas gift giving list. Then, honor that person with a gift, but do it anonymously. This type of action is one promoted by St. Paul, who instructed Christians to “use their money to do good,” and “be rich in good works and generous” (1 Timothy 6:18). An inspiring example is that of a little boy who became a ‘secret Santa’. He decided to save up his allowances for many weeks in order to buy small gifts, giving them as random surprises to complete strangers. The little boy purchased gas cards in amounts of $5 dollars, placing the card underneath the windshield wipers of several cars in a mall parking lot. Along with the card, was this note: My mom asked me to think of a random act of kindness during the holiday so I saved up my allowances to by gas cards for strangers. I know it isn’t much, but I hope you are pleased. Merry Christmas!


The gratitude attitude    


Throughout the entire holiday, count your blessings. Some people fixate on problems during the holiday – commercialism, materialism, obnoxious relatives, the high cost of celebrating, etc. A better holiday will result for you and for those around you when there is a sincere attitude of gratitude. “Cultivating gratitude is a very powerful practice that balances your mind’s tendency to focus on what’s irritating or what’s lacking in the present moment,” says Phillip Moffitt, author of Emotional Chaos to Clarity. “Constantly focusing on the negative aspects of your experiences can lead to a distorted perception of life. Focusing on the negative also tends to flatten your experience of being alive, and thus kills your joy and deadens the sense of possibility. Gratitude practice liberates your mind from this morass of dissatisfaction.” The attitude of gratitude resulted in a memorable gift to a group of trash collectors. One bitterly cold December morning, long before the sun was up, they were picking up the trash on their route. In front of one home, the trash bin had three envelops on it, one for each collector. Inside was a gift of cash with a note from the resident, saying, “I do not take for granted that day after day, week after week, and month after month, my trash is faithfully collected and removed. Thank you and merry Christmas.”


Renew your hope


Christmas is a season of hope and trust. Even if you feel as though you are struggling through the holiday, cultivate hope. Trust that God is guiding and directing your life to a better place. Remind yourself of these encouraging words from the Bible: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’” declares the Lord, “‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” ( Jeremiah 29:11). Also, adhere to this simple philosophy offered by author Robert H. Schuller: “Let your hopes not your hurts shape your future.” This important lesson was learned by Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister when she was a young child. In her book, Happiness, she writes, “My father died when I was three years old. That did not seem like a good thing to anyone then – or maybe ever. But one thing of which I’m sure: if it had not happened I would not be sitting where I am right now writing these words. And this part of my life is the best I’ve ever had. My young widowed mother could have whined her way through life and taught me to do the same. Instead, she walked through the pain to another life – and took me with her. She laughed and never looked back. She made no shrines to the past, no matter what happened to her.” Don’t allow bitterness and despair to grow in your life. Weed those out by renewing your hope.


Give love & compassion


Joel Osteen, a Protestant minister and author observes that “everywhere you go these days people are hurting. People are discouraged; many have broken dreams. They’ve made mistakes, and now their lives are in a mess. They need to feel God’s compassion and his unconditional love. They don’t need somebody to judge and criticize them, or to tell them what they’re doing wrong. More than any other human attribute, I believe our world is crying out for people with compassion, people who love unconditionally, people who will take some time to help their fellow sojourners on this planet.” This is a season of peace, love and joy. Be a person who models and offers others God’s unconditional love and compassion.


Prayer, not desperation


Though the holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and celebration, for some people it is just the opposite as they experience greater stress, isolation, sadness and depression. If you’re one of those for whom sadness increases during December, remember you are not alone. In fact, St. Ignatius of Loyola suffered greatly from depression. That was perhaps the reason why he wrote this prayer to seek God’s help in dealing with it:

       Oh Christ Jesus,

       when all is darkness

       and we feel weak and helpless,

       give us the sense of Your presence,

       Your love and Your strength.

       Help us to have perfect trust

       in Your protecting love

       and strengthening power,

       so that nothing may frighten or worry us,

       for, living close You,

       we shall see Your hand,

       Your purpose, Your will through all things.  

Read and re-read his prayer and offer it up yourself as often as necessary. During the month of December, be a star. Do your part to brighten the light of Christmas.



Updated on October 06 2016