It can be quite a sad time too. The death of a friend or family member at Christmas or the ending of our relationships with one another can create a hole that we have no way to fill ourselves.
Lay it all before the Lord. At a minimum, there is nothing on this earth that can fulfill us, for "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You."
It is a time to pick up the Cross and move along the way of perfection.
It is not a time to withdraw into our self-centered ways, not a time to create Hell on earth and actually risk becoming so isolated as to want to reject Love at our judgment. How awful it is to hold onto bitterness.
It is a time to love, even the ones who seem unlovable to us. First, we must get to Holy Mass, for it is firstly a holy day of obligation. Secondly, it is an act of love to offer our Mass for someone. It is the re-presentation of the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ in His sacramental appearance of bread and wine, and it is particularly special on the day that celebrates His Birth, the first time His flesh was made visible to the world.
Christmas seems to be a time of waiting around and doing nothing, and when we do try to help, we seem to get in the way of someone else's ideas of the holiday. Gifts are not always what we want or expected. Meals might not be what we like or people might be doing things in a way that aggravates us (not moving "fast enough" or whatever). We need to step out of ourselves and realize that not everything will go our way, and perhaps we might be much better off if it didn't.
In the Holy Mass we have received the greatest gift, Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, made possible only through His entry into the world as a child and through the Paschal Mystery. St. Maximilian Kolbe wrote, "If Angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion." So really, we need nothing, only Him. That being said, it is a worthy custom to give gifts to others at this time, since it is a way to show our love.
Receive the love of Christ and grace in the Eucharist, and take that away from the Mass. The "Ite, Missa est" symbolically is the Ascension, where Christ sends His disciples out to all the nations to baptize them. Love your family member(s) who cause/s you the most anger, and pray your way through the situations that make you angry so you don't hold onto it and to love him or her or them. In addition, find time to do something like going to a soup kitchen and interacting (love is relational!) with the homeless. You have plenty of time, I promise you. Then do it throughout the year. Also take time to spend time with Our Lord in Eucharistic adoration.
Go to confession regularly. We must work to become free from attachment to sin! The sacrament of Confession makes this especially possible!
There are an assortment of thoughts remaining:
- actually meaning "Merry Christmas"-do we?
- actually meaning, "Thank you." Marc got me thinking about this one.
- How do we express thankfulness and poverty at home? I realized recently just how much stuff (food, clothes, you name it) people have.
- How do we come out of ourselves when things aren't as we like them? Can we resolve the conflict without becoming bitter and angry?
Love as the Christ child did.