The house is as clean as it is ever going to be. The extra table and chairs have been brought into the house. Lights are shining on the decorated tree, and colourfully wrapped gifts are spread under the branches. Empty stockings are waiting to be filled, and the scent of frosted cranberries is wafting through the air. It is Christmas Eve.
Yesterday’s message at church was about the spirit of Christmas and what that means to us. Think about that for a second. What does Christmas spirit mean to you? What does it look like?
The giving of gifts. The giving of time and service to help the less fortunate. Spending time with family and friends. Connecting with old friends or distant family through phone calls or Christmas cards and letters. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. Sharing baking or lavish meals. The excitement and wonder. And when you take all of those aspects of the season and reduce them to one simple word, you get love.
It isn’t just love as a feeling though; it is love with flesh on it. Love in action. We give. We share. We celebrate together or give our time. We do these things out of love. (Did you catch the verb in that sentence?)
Of course, the nature of our North American society has turned Christmas, and many other special occasions, into monstrous money machines, but I think our hearts’ desire is to rebel against that mindset. It isn’t always easy to do that though. Life can be heavy, and the holiday season can often be the heaviest time of the year for some, which is all the more reason why we need love in action. In my own life, this year has been very long, expensive, and full of rough patches, and medication has messed with my mood and mental space. For most of December, it felt like I was a chicken scratching drought-hardened ground in search of insects, or in my case, Christmas spirit.
And then I did a thing. A thing most out of character for me. I invited a co-worker to come for Christmas dinner, and I am so excited that she said yes. Sure, I am a little worried that the flaws in my house will be glaring, but the invitation just felt like the right thing to do. It is love in action. Love with flesh on it. While I haven’t yet given much thought to my goals for the coming year, I do believe that loving in action will be in that list.