8 Words to Remember

So far this month, I've focused on holiday traditions, writing about Christmas movies, decorations, and treats. For me, the traditions are important because they allow me to celebrate the joy that I feel when I am around the people that I love--and when I am far away from them. What I haven't written about so far is the true meaning of Christmas. Here are 8 words that remind me of what this season is really about--

The time of anticipation and preparation for Christ's arrival. Waiting is not something I am very good at, though I've had a lot of practice lately. For the past year or so, it has seemed that we're perpetually waiting for the next step in our journey. Advent reminds us that the time we spend waiting is a gift; its time to pause and prepare for what lies ahead.

One of my favorite Christmas songs is "Breath of Heaven" by Amy Grant. She writes from Mary's perspective, capturing the mixture of fear, doubt, and hope that comes with following a difficult path. Mary reminds us to have faith through our greatest challenges, and that sometimes we're meant to take a difficult path in order to achieve something greater.

The Christmas story is filled with angels delivering God's messages to men and women on Earth. There are two things to remember here: the first is that God asked many things of many people in order to bring His love to Earth, but He never left any one of them alone or without guidance. The second is the importance of listening--Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men, all of them had to quiet the fears, doubts, and personal desires that spoke loudest in their minds in order to listen to what God wanted of them.

The Star of Bethlehem appeared on the night Christ was born and guided the shepherds and wise men to the manger where he lay; it brought them all together that night so that they could know the good news. The star reminds us that God will guide our way. In our journeys to Him and through Him, we will come to know joy.

This word might be my favorite on this list. Christ was born in a manger among the animals because there was no room in Bethlehem for Mary and Joseph to stay indoors. This word reminds us that God's love comes even when there seems to be no room for Him in our world, our lives, or our hearts. Even in the humblest of places, He is there.

This one is simple. Christ is God's love, given freely so that we could know eternity. Christ is the reason for the season; he is the reason we gather together.

Christmas is a time to know joy, and a time to share joy through acts of love. Joy is a great emotion (one that can be easily forgotten this time of year), but it can be created with even the smallest of gestures.

Saint Nicholas--
We try to bring joy to our friends and family members by giving gifts to one another. Let's not forget about the man who gave rise to the Santa Claus legend. He gave quietly to those in need, expecting nothing in return.