“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” This comes from Charles Dickens book, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, but it is also illustrative of the Christmas season.
Now at first glance, you may be wondering, ‘What the Dickens is he talking about?’
The fact of the matter is that Christmas can be the very best and greatest of times. However, Christmas can also be the worst of times. Christmas can be great in many ways:
- A time with family and friends
- Great food, drink, and parties
- Peace and love
- Giving and receiving
- Vacation from work
- Of course celebrating Christ’s birthday (my own birthday is around this time too, hint hint)
Conversely, it can be awful in many ways:
- Family and friends may not be around
- Tight economic times
- People forgetting my birthday
Perhaps what makes the Christmas season extra tough is our Great Expectations (which just happens to be another Dickens book). In other words, when we expect great times, it is extra hard and disappointing when things fall short. The disappointment may make us bitter, angry, and resentful. It can turn us into a Scrooge, the character from A Christmas Carol (which also happens to be another Dickens story, you might be noticing a theme here).
One big criticism against Christmas is that Christ was not born on December 25th. Indeed, people have argued that the December date arose out of a pagan holiday and that He was actually born later in the spring or summer. However, I would argue that it doesn’t really matter as far as one of the great benefits of Christmas is concerned.
One of the greatest benefits of Christmas is that it gives us an opportunity to remember and focus. When I speak of focus, I’m referring to constantly remembering and reminding ourselves of our faith. We need to continue to use this focus as it can lift us emotionally and prompt us to keep a positive attitude and examine our situation in proper perspective.
The positive attitude includes looking for positive ideas rather than the negative. It also includes constantly giving gratitude as gratitude will lift us emotionally. The positive perspective (discussed in the last blog) includes considering an eternal perspective which shrinks our current problems.
Daily reminders are crucial to keeping focused on our faith. We all forget our faith at times, and so we need to constantly remind ourselves to focus on our faith. There are lots of ways to remind ourselves of our faith:
- Reading the Bible, or other faith based books.
- Music and art
- Talking to others
- Jewelry (I actually carry a small rock in my pocket that has ‘Rejoice’ written on it)
We should be using these tools to focus on our faith daily. In this way, Christmas is another tool to remind ourselves to focus. When we focus, everyday can be a positive one. In fact, I have a patient who says that Christmas is not so special as every day to him is like Christmas.
I hope and pray that this Christmas is a great one for you. On the other hand, if this season finds you at a low point, I encourage you to refocus on your faith, look for the positive and seek a different perspective. In this way, the worst of times may not be so bad.
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