What is the True Meaning of Christmas?
For the first time ever, my daughter experience Christmas with my entire family. We have just recently moved to British Columbia and had the amazing opportunity to share the holidays with my family. My sister and her husband live thirty minutes from us, and they have two young daughters who are Céline’s only cousins. My parents live a little bit further away, over the mountains and on the other side of Kelowna (a 4 hour drive) and have been staying with us since before Christmas. It still feels surreal to me that we are living here, close to my family, for the first time in more than a decade. So what is the true meaning of Christmas?
The true meaning of Christmas begins with the reason we are celebrating.
As a practicing Catholic, Christmas is first about celebrating the birth of Jesus. I have to admit that with our move across the country this month, I have not yet found a church to attend and did not attend any holiday services. What I love about holiday services is that they bring so many people together that may not otherwise attend church. It can serve as a reminder of the meaning of Christmas and why we are celebrating at this time of year.
After that, the true meaning of Christmas to me is family.
Over the past decade, I have been blessed to celebrate Christmas with my husband’s family and my best friend Leanne’s family in Ontario. We spent Christmas Eve with his family and would enjoy Christmas dinner with Leanne and her family. Even though I was away from my own family, I felt loved and welcomed into these two other families. This year was very different, as we celebrated Christmas in November with my husband’s family and then both Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner with my family.
Family means something different to all of us. It can be those related by blood and just as often, family are those whom we are closest to, that don’t necessarily have a direct blood relationship. Over the holidays it can be such a challenge to be away from family. You’re probably wondering why we didn’t travel to see each other over Christmas for over a decade. For many years, we were all separated by a continent. My sister was here in B.C. and my parents were in Mexico. As my family lived in Ontario, if we chose to meet up for Christmas, there would have to be two parts of the family travelling over the holidays. If you’ve ever tried to fly anywhere for Christmas, you understand why we chose not to do this.
Celebrating with young children also influences the true meaning of Christmas.
For them, it’s hard to separate the meaning of the season from the presents under the tree. This is something that I personally struggle with. We have never been a family that filled up the space under the tree. When my daughter writes her letter to Santa, I do my best to guide her to have only a few items on the list. One of my friends had an amazing suggestion, which is that her girls only get one Santa gift each year, and the rest are from mom and dad or family.
This year, as you may have seen, we got a puppy for Christmas. We wanted a particular breed that worked well for our family, so we got our dog from a wonderful breeder. His name is Mouse and he’s a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. I was pretty heartbroken when our daughter was disappointed with what she got from Santa this year (even though she got pretty much everything on her list). We have taught our daughter to practice gratitude and give thanks, yet we found that she was still not quite pleased with her Christmas surprises. This attitude will most likely change as she gets older; however it’s something that I struggle with, when I feel like she’s not being grateful.
Lastly, the true meaning of Christmas is about gratitude.
It’s a wonderful time to slow down and reflect on all that we have in our lives. We are reminded about how little we actually need to be comfortable when we read the story of Mary and Joseph, and baby Jesus being born in a stable. And no matter how full it was under the tree, we can always find something and someone to be grateful for. Will you join me this week as we focus on being grateful for those who surround us, rather than the things that we have?