Monday 17 December 2012

Keeping Christ in Christmas / the season of giving / a wee bit of beach holiday angst

Just back in Zürich from India. (More on that later.) Here's a delayed contribution to the Keeping Christ in Christmas Blog Carnival (originally posted on 17 December, but I took it offline for a while)

I’m participating in the Keeping Christ in Christmas Blog Carnival, hosted by Raising (& Teaching) Little SaintsTruly Rich Mom and Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families. We'll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Jesus as the Reason for the Christmas season. Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of carnival entries. 

I am 36 years old. Assuming that I was cognizant by age 3 (I was an intelligent child ; ), then I’ve had 33 conscious Advents and Christmases. It is embarrassing to admit, but this is the first time that I’ve given any thought to Jesus during Advent. Of course, between my family, Catholic school, and church, I had grown up knowing that Christmas was about Jesus. However, it stayed as “information” at the level of my head, and Jesus tended to be bulldozed by Santa and presents. As a child, I was preoccupied with what presents I was getting, and as an adult, by what presents I was buying. In any case, this year, the Good News that He is coming, that He loved us so much that He became one of us to show us the way home, has finally worked its way from my head into my heart. I chalk it up to God’s grace, and not to a particular effort or intent on my part. It has been a tumultuous year. I was in a hopeless and lonely place when God found me. He picked me up, and it feels like He has been carrying me around in His pocket since. (I have Jody and Caitriona Spooner, who were part of the wonderful group I walked with to Santiago de Compostela, to thank for the sweet phrase “in God’s pocket”.)

In any case, lately, I’ve been cleaning house in my heart, trying to make space for the Child King. I’m trying to sweep out all the hurts and anger (lots of anger packed in nice and tight) I’ve been so dutifully nursing for so many years, and trying to flush my heart clean with buckets of forgiveness and letting go. Operative word is “trying”. I may be at this task for a while, as there was a lot of dark and heavy stuff crammed in there. For the first time ever, I went to Confession on my own accord (not dragged to it by school or by my parents) in preparation for Christmas. However, all this contemplation tends to put me in a somber mood. Yesterday, on three separate occasions, people asked me why I looked so sad. I didn’t feel sad, but somehow must’ve looked it. I went to Mass (in German). Because of the language barrier, I only have a general feeling of what our parish priest is talking about. However, I did get that he said something about “Rejoicing!” (“Freude” in German). After Mass, I looked up what the readings for the day were. There was the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians 4:4-7 exhorting us to “Rejoice!” I learned that this Sunday, the 3rd Sunday of Advent, is also known as Gaudete Sunday, and that Gaudete is Latin for “Rejoice”. (I am no expert on religious things, and had never heard that term before, though surely, it’s been around for eons. It’s Latin, after all.) But that is how I found another integral ingredient in preparing for Christmas. Aside from clearing out all those grudges, hurt, and resentment from my heart, I’ve got to fill it full to the brim with summa that rejoicing!

In any case, in keeping awareness of Christ in Christmas, I think that teaching the catechism class has helped a lot. However, I also have my mother-in-law to thank. We are celebrating the holidays with Ross’s side of the family in India, where his brother is based. Family are flying in from Switzerland, Cyprus, Australia, and Lebanon. My mother-in-law has made some new decrees about presents. The children will get presents from their parents, godparents, the grandparents, and Santa, but the adults are not to get each other presents. The rules will be strictly enforced. Violators get no Buck’s Fizz (orange juice and champagne, yummy!) on Christmas morning. Since I had already gotten presents for my side of the family in October (so that my mum could bring them back with her), my mother-in-law’s declaration significantly simplifies our Christmas shopping / preparations for India. I know it is the season of heartfelt giving. However, I am a terrible shopper. When faced with gazillion options for presents (or ice cream flavors, for that matter), I become catatonic and lose all decision-making capabilities. When faced with a list of 25 people, all the ladies will inevitably end up with nice hand lotion, and all the gents with socks or books. Most will like what they get (I mean, who doesn’t love L’Occitane?), but it doesn’t feel so personal. Thanks to my mother-in-law, less shopping stress, more time contemplating Jesus! (Oh, except for the hours lost last night panicking over of having to be seen in a bikini beside my gorgeous, sun-bronzed sisters-in-law.) 

Please visit the other Carnival entries

Homeschool Mosaics: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Joy: Keeping Christ in Christmas: Advent Interruptions
The Breadbox Letters: Interrupted by Glory
TwentyTuesdayAfternoons: Keeping Christ in Christmas/ The Season of Giving / A Wee Bit of Beach Holiday Angst
The Learning Basket: Staying With the Nativity Story
Tercets: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Rosary Mom: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Ate Maui: Hoping and Bringing Hope
Written By the Finger of God: 12 Traditions for Keeping Christ in Christmas
Dominique's Desk: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Felix at Fifty: What Jesus Wants for Christmas
Mommy Bares All: Birthday Cake for the Birthday Boy on Christmas Day
Between Now and Later: Keeping Christ in Christmas, I am trying...
Lique's Antics: Family Antics: Christmas Reflection
Life of Fortunate Chances: Our First Ever Christmas: Keeping Christ in Christmas
The Mommy Journey: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Roller Coaster Ride: How to Remind Your Kids of Jesus Christ This Christmas
Cymplified: Christ -Centered Christmas: Cymplified!
Mountain Grace: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Touring Kitty: Grown-up Christmas List
Mommy Chinkysoup for the Soul: A Very Special Christmas
City Girl, Country Home: Finding Jesus in a Flurry
Coffee Moments with Sam: Christmas Unwrapped: 5 Presents Our Kids Truly Deserve
Raising Lifelong Learners: Keeping Christ in Christmas
The Diary of a Sower: Keeping Christ in Christmas: Celebrating the Golden Days
Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Raising (and Teaching) Little Saints: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Truly Rich Mom: The Greatest Gift of All This Christmas
Joy-Filled Family: CHRIST in Christmas
Blueberry 010: Keeping Christ in Christmas: Jesus is the Reason for the Season
Deeper Truth Blog: Keeping Christ in Christmas Carnival
Holy Ducklings: 10 Ways to Make Advent Special for Your Little Ducklings
Green Eggs and Moms: Keeping Christ in Christmas: Green Eggs & Moms Style!


  1. Hi Ultreya! :)

    This is Tina of TrulyRichMom. I hope you can make your Keeping Christ in Christmas post live today and send me the link. I'm now compiling all the links for emailing to all the participants.

    Thanks and God bless always,

  2. Hi again! :)

    Thanks for making this post live! :) It's never too late to learn all these wonderful things about our Catholic faith, right? :) I'm also learning a lot because we are homeschooling! :)

    I'm glad your Christmas was much more meaningful this time around! God bless always!


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!