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The dangers of sentimentalizing Christmas

I don't want this to be a "bah, humbug" rant; I really don't. But sometimes....occasionally....perhaps without much thought.....

We over-sentimentalize Christmas.

I'm not here to take away your candy canes, shut off your 24-hour/7-day a week Christmas music. Don't put away your "Christmas Cookie" candle or take down the giant inflatable Santa from the front lawn. It's okay to enjoy the holidays.

I just want to take the stress off of some things (mainly moms who want to create "perfect" Christmas memories) and put the stress on something else entirely:

God-made-man.

When you're sitting in the pew on Christmas Eve (with the kids fidgeting next to you because they are now no longer terribly excited about the pretty dress they've been wanting to wear for a month and have now realized how itchy it is), watching the children in the parish act out the Nativity scene and place someone's borrowed baby doll in a nest of hay, remember: that's your Savior.

It's not just a cute (and why are they always BLOND??) baby on a Christmas card, born under harsh circumstances. It's not the time to get all gushy about "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" or wonder if you *finally* got the perfect gift for your mother-in-law.

It's time to fall on your knees and thank Almighty God for sending His Son to become one of us, and save us from our sins.

It's easy to think about a sweet little baby, and all your fun memories of Christmas past. It's good to be with family and friends and celebrate. It's wonderful to get out the cookie cutters and go to parties and shop for gifts for loved ones.

But don't make it ALL about that. Don't make Christmas about a holiday card with a blond baby and chubby angels looking down from on high. Don't make it about a time of year when we haul out ornaments and then put them all away, along with our faith and belief. Don't make it about being "of good cheer" for a short time only, until we have to get back to "reality".

Christ is our Reality. He's the most real Person we will ever know. Don't reduce him to a nativity set, a Christmas card, a children's play or a song.

Make Christmas real.

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Crossing Guard

I saw you
today
as you guided
your little man across that busy street.

You were wearing some
big man boots
and
watching cars and lights.

Your little man had on
black sneakers and
a Mickey Mouse hat
that bounced
as he walked.

He wasn't watching nothing but
your big man boots
and
the white stripes of the crosswalk.

Just before
he got to the sidewalk again,
his step bounced a bit
- he hopped over
a spot where the asphalt broke.

You turned to look,
holding out a hand to
your little man.
Not rushed or angry,
just making sure
he got up
on that sidewalk.

Then you walked on,
in your big man boots,
face into a cold Michigan wind,
with the little man behind,
his hat bouncing.