Christmas. Stores and all marketing campaigns all over the country have made this out to be a holiday of excess. Extra presents no one needs, extra food no one other than those in starving countries need, extra time spent with family some don't have, and extra money spent that, in this economy, many don't have. Why do we keep coming back to a holiday that every year becomes more about excess and not about friends, family and the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ?
Don't worry, I'm not a grinch or a saint. I want Christmas gifts, I love Christmas gifts. I love giving gifts in general. When I have spent time making a present or earning money to buy someone a present and when I have put time and thought into what I may give someone, I enjoy the look on their face when they enjoy and happy with what they've been given. That being said, that might be ten dollars, or even one dollar, spend on a book I know they'll enjoy. Christmas doesn't have to be a race to be bigger and better. If thought has gone into a gift, that should be all that matters. It does NOT matter what amount of money has been spend on a gift.
The same thing goes for food. I love to bake and cook and give people treats. Baking something wonderful and seeing the look on someone's face when they truly enjoy a treat I've made makes me feel wonderful. I love to please people. I can please people year-round with food. I don't need a special occasion to make chocolate chip cookies or to bake a cheesecake to try out a new recipe. I just can. That being said, I tend to go a little overboard on Christmas. Christmas reminds me of my grandma's sugar star cookies. Of sugar cookies cut into the shape of trees. Of Cherry pies and hams and all the wonderful things I can smell from Christmases past.
Then there's family. We get to see family we've been missing for days, weeks, months and sometimes even years. Family for most of us means love, for other it means love and stress and for still others it just means stress. But family is blood, like it or not and most years it's a pleasure to spend time in their company over the holidays. We celebrate in order to have joy with one another.
But Christmas also is about taking care of ourselves.
Taking care of ourselves? You may ask. But yes, you need to take care of yourself for many reasons. One of which is that after the holidays, after the buoying affect of Halloween, followed by the food, football and family of Thanksgiving and the giving, gifting and gratifying of Christmas you may feel like the love just ends. Put added weight on top of that and some people get depressed. Others just get down-in-the-dumps and they don't quite know why. By taking care of yourself through this holiday season you may help control the post-seasonal blues and be better able to reach out and help others.
For those of us who, like me, celebrate Christmas more for religious reason that for material ones, we are called to be stewards. We are called to take care of this planet. We also are called to be financial stewards. While we're at it, we're called to be stewards of our spirits, our minds and our bodies. We go to church and read our Bible to nourish our spirits. We read books, engage in conversation and go to school to nourish our minds. Most people are good at taking care of themselves mentally and spiritually. If we feel we've dropped the ball spiritually we talk to a pastor or a friend. If mentally we feel fried, or if we just can't get through life day by day all the time, we find help. We talk to someone, take some medicine or find a way to make it better and to get through it.
We find ways to fix or help along other areas in our life, we need to also concentrate on the physical. If you're like me, you've dropped the ball more than once on taking care of your body. I used to smoke, I indulge in beer (though honestly, I seldom overindulge) and I don't give my body the care it requires to be "A temple of God."
Health is important. Health for anyone, religious or not, can ensure a long and happy life. But if you believe in God, if you follow the practices that God sets out before you, you have a calling to be a steward for God. That means that while you attend church, you also have a calling to make sure you are all right mentally and physically. So this Christmas, please take care of yourself. Making it a priority is not selfish, it's not wrong and it may be necessary.