Let’s keep it simple, Merry Christmas

Many things can ruin Christmas. The dark and short days seem appropriate for the type of year we have had. Violence, uncertainty, fear, and the unknown can creep in underneath all of the bright lights, families coming together, and choirs of people singing of a baby born a long time ago who was meant to save all of mankind from their sins. Maybe you go to a Nativity play or a Carol service and you go and it’s nice but you know,  not really applicable for you.

Peace is in short supply these days. Peace for the world, peace for you, maybe if joy means that frenzy almost drunk feeling you get as you rush through life, then maybe you have joy at least. Hope? well maybe you do, if hope just means a wish. Maybe this is it for you. Maybe that is okay for you. Maybe you are okay with the way you are and the way your life is going. A baby born two thousand years ago has no relevance in your life.

This is what I would like to say to you: a baby born two thousand years has relevance if he grows up as a perfect man. A baby who grows up as a perfect man has relevance if you are not as good as you think you are and if you are a sinner. You being a sinner has relevance if the penalty for sin is death and if Jesus was the sacrifice for our sin. If this is true, then Baby Jesus has more relevance than maybe you like to admit. If it is true then it means that peace can be possible, joy has more depth and is more lasting than your previous ‘joy’, and then hope means more as if you are expecting something, not just you wish for something.

I spend this Christmas quietly, the way I always do with my parents and siblings because all of my extended family live back in the States. We eat take-away on Christmas Eve, watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life” ( I fell asleep towards the end watching it this year, but to be honest I already know this movie off by heart), and consume an unhealthy amount of sugar and coffee. All of us sitting together with blankets and pillows surrounding us, all of us laughing over the silly things that my little brother will randomly come out with (“I hate milk! you have to separate the mother and the baby in order to get it”- Bubba, 2015). More than once, this will spring from my mind: I love my family. Spending most holidays with just the 7 of us has made us only closer, my two brothers and my two sisters and my Mum and Dad. Christmas also means family-time to me and it is one of the main things I look forward too.

This morning, my little brother woke all of us up early at 7, somehow I doubt that he’ll do that again next year. We woke up slowly sipping our coffee and talking nonsense, mostly teasing each other. Before we did anything else though, we took turns reading the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 1 and a part of Chapter 2 about Jesus’s birth. This is what it is about, I thought, This is what gives Christmas its depth. The idea of hope, peace, and joy is in the shape and form of a little baby, both fully God and Man, the most wonderful Paradox imaginable. This is what Christmas means. 

Soon I’m going to eat Mexican food with my family and no offense to you guys but I really want to stop  writing and get back with my family so let’s keep this ending simple: Merry Christmas.


iphone part 3 031

Here I am, getting into the Christmas spirit by taking a selfie and wearing a paper crown, now my lovely co-blogger is going to write a little something (it’s both of us today, Hooray!). – Savvy 

“Hi everyone!  So I’m back in Chicago for the holidays – just spent an awesome night with an old high school friend, sipping wine, bingeing on R2D2 cookies, and watching a documentary about the science of sex appeal.

Anyways, my beloved co-blogger Savvy covered the core meaning of Christmas.  So I’ll talk about everything else.

Being back in America means that all things that make America America has hit me in full force. Specifically, America’s consumerist culture which is at its most intense during the holidays. Clothing stores are open until 2am, some form of advertisement is everywhere you look, and the TJ Max parking lot has become a vicious, competitive rink.  Obviously, I’m a product of the culture, pawing through sales items at Hollister as eagerly as the next chica.  I crave those pair of Abercrombie jeggings, a kit of blue hair-dye, maybe the next best-selling book in the world of sociology.

But when I restrain these impulses and focus on what I already have, I’m still left with a fondness for shopping.  Come to think of it, some of the best moments I’ve had with my mother has been when we’ve toured the suburban shopping mall and then ended the day with an Auntie Anne’s pretzel or fro-yo.  Another good high school friend and I still reflect on a time when we trekked through Chicago’s brutal winter all for a visit to Victoria’s Secret – and then when we got there, a sales assistant strangely allocated us to a single changing room for the two of us to share.

Sales Assistant: “Are you girls together?”

My friend: “Um, yeah – I mean, no.  I’m mean, we’re friends.”

Essentially, shopping is a nostalgic tradition for me.  As I tour the stores with friends and family, and in that sense participate in our culture’s consumerist practices, I am made even more aware that the happiness argued to be found in materials has already been found in the memories I share with the people I love – and the memories that are soon to be!

Merry Christmas everyone!”

Christmas photoAs depressing as this may sound to you, home wouldn’t be the same without trips to Trader Jo’s aka the hipster of grocery stores, see me holding a box of Jo-Jo’s, the organic answer to Oreos.  You can even see speckles of vanilla bean in the cream center!

– Rachel

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