Rekindling the holiday season spirit

Thu, 11/29/2018 - 10:15pm
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The holiday season is here once again, and it holds different things for each one of us.

It is a busy time for most, quickly filled up with dinner parties, shopping, holiday decorating, cooking, baking, trips to the mainland, and time spent with family and friends. It seems that before we know it the New Year is here and we look back wondering ‘where did the time go?’ Advent is traditionally a season of preparation and a great opportunity to evaluate and plan ahead to make sure that we make time for those things that matter most.

In his New Testament letter to his protégé Timothy, the apostle Paul urges him to make the most of what he has been given, and encourages him to invest his energies and his ‘gifts’ wisely. What a great reminder to us! What have we been ‘gifted’ with this year? What can we do to cherish our gifts, to cultivate them, and to make them a priority to ensure that they don’t get lost in the holiday bustle? This will be different for each of us, and it is worth reflecting upon. For some, it may mean rekindling a relationship and renewing a bond of friendship or family. For others, it might take the form of dedicating some of our material resources for the benefit of others. Or it may simply mean taking stock of our own family traditions and breathing new fire and passion into them. Here are a few ideas that I hope will be helpful as we consider ways to rekindle our holiday spirit:

Make an advent candle wreath, or get a new menorah and light a candle at dinnertime each night to celebrate your faith tradition.

Give a little something extra to your favorite non-profit organization or charitable institution.

Set up a Nativity set with the Wise Men all the way across the room. Then have your children ‘march’ them closer and closer to the manger each day until they arrive at the crèche on Christmas morning. (This was one of my own personal favorites when my children were young!)

Make Christmas tree ornaments that are symbols of hope and peace- e.g. a cross, an angel, a six-pointed star.

Craft a garland made with paper dreidels.

Bake cookies and deliver them to a neighbor.

Get a new board game and play it with family or friends.

Observe the sacred side of the season by attending a worship service, Christmas play, or concert.

Or, fill-in the blank with your own ideas...

There is an old folksong I’ve always loved that includes these lyrics:

It only takes a spark to get a fire going,

And soon all those around will warm up to its glowing…”

Whatever we ultimately do to rekindle our holiday spirit, it will result from the priorities we set and the choices we make. And may we all look for new ways to take the blessings that we have received this year, and turn them into blessings for others.

Have a Happy Hanukkah!

Peter Preiser is the pastor of the Harbor Church.

This is the first in a series of four columns written for the Advent season.