SEVEN THINGS TO INCLUDE FOR A JOYFUL JOURNEY TO CHRISTMAS
By Dr. Michael A. Halleen
Attend services and other events that celebrate the day, even if you are far from home. The journey is best taken in the company of others.
What "makes" Christmas for you? Handel's Messiah? A special ornament on the tree? For many, it's the food. (I can't imagine Christmas Eve without meatballs, rice pudding with an almond in it, lingonberries and root beer.) Some tell stories, some re-enact the stable scene. Honor your traditions — hold on to them. They add warmth to the journey.
Turn off the television and put on some of the great music of the season. This journey is along a road filled with singing. Let your voice be added to the chorus.
Obey any impulse to be generous, even to those who are not expecting generosity from you. "When in doubt, shell it out," one of my crazy uncles used to say, and he was right. Tip freely. Christmas is a time for liberality. It makes the journey to Bethlehem easier for others and more fun for you.
Take the opportunity to restore a lost personal relationship, to mend a broken friendship. Take the initiative, without worrying about who was right or wrong in whatever it was that divided you. Get past it, and forgive. Best to travel light on this journey.
Keep your wits about you. Do everything in moderation, the Bible says, like eating, for example — or drinking — or driving. We can overextend ourselves in a hundred ways on this journey, thinking other people's joy somehow depends on us. In fact, we simply add hazards — for ourselves and others — on what is meant to be a road of peace and joy.
Erase the frown of worry from your face for the season. Think about what children see when they look into your face, and consciously make it a smile. Determine that only kind words will come out of your mouth — no criticism, no complaints. Decide to let more love into your life — love for God, for God's children, for life itself. It was for them that that he came — and for you. Smiles carry us far on this journey.
Let's go to Bethlehem!
Copyright 2006 Dr. Michael A. Halleen. Permission is granted to send this to others, with attribution, but not for commercial purposes.