So its Christmastime and as usual, for me, it brings a lot of stress. Everything just all seems to be happening at this time of year. Its the time when people rush around to finish things off before the year ends. Then there's shopping to be done. And family to have over from overseas. And gifts to be exchanged. And functions to go to. Parties to plan, birthdays to remember. And bank accounts depleting. Its just always such a hectic and stressful time of year for me. This year however has been somewhat different for me. Nothing has changed about the traffic and silly taxi drivers. Work too is hectic with planning our Christmas function not to mention the many work-related reports we have to read and comment on. So life around me has stayed the same but it still felt like there is a difference. And then it dawned on me and I realised what has changed. I have changed.
This time last year (and other years previous to that), Christmas usually meant a lot of parties to go to which meant a lot of alcohol to consume which meant a lot merry-ing to be done! As I was going through this thought chain, I realised that if this is what Christmas meant for me in the past, then really, I had lost the real meaning of Christmas because I am feeling the spirit of it now and it truly feels new to me. At this very moment I am planning out in my head how I want this year, for our Christmas to be different. I want it to be focused entirely on my family and the children in particular to learn more about our Saviour's birth. Not just to get presents and place them under the tree with their name on it and tell them it was from Santa. I would also very much want them to play an active part in learning about the birth of Christ. A freind convinced me to do a nativity play with the kids playing the different parts. At first, it all sounded very complicated to me. I mean hey, me? Write a play and bring the whole thing together? Yeah right. But like I said, this friend convinced me and told me all I needed to do was read Luke chapter 2. Its apparently all in there. So, out came my scriptures and the first thing I read is this: And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. I didnt understand what it meant to be taxed so I asked. Lo and behold, I learnt right there and then that the reason why Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem was to go and pay their taxes! After telling this story to couple other friends, I realised that my goodness...I still have lots to learn! Everyone else seemed to know this. How come I didnt? Because believe or not, I never read Luke 2 before. Heck, I never read the bible as a book before. I read things here and there but never read it as a book.
So back to my story about Christmas. I guess what I am getting at is that I am feeling the Christmas spirit so much more. I am not denying that its still hectic, busy and stressful. But, I feel a calmness, peace. I have changed and my perspective has changed. I am able to feel more joy - like real joy, not tipsy happy from Brown Brothers, Cienna red wine! It feels like I am finally getting quality in my life because I am doing right (or at least trying/stiving to do right). I was once told that some people see Gods commandments as restrictive. I am finding though that because I am trying to do right, I am being set free. Alcohol and the lifestyle that it had lead me to no longer has me captive. I no longer feel guilty at not seeing my kids for 24hrs. I was getting into the habbit of going for drinks after work. Good intentions of having one drink never lasts because one drink lead to another and another and next thing you know, the police are there to close the bar. I get home and the kids are asleep and will only be able to see them the next morning. And then that not even much because I would almost always have a major hangover to nurse so if a child so much as raises their voice, they would get a smack instantly! I guess I just have been doing a lot of reflection and it has made me realise that there is wisdom in the Prophet's counsel not to drink and do certain things. So instead of seeing the commandments as restrictive, they are actually protective and allows us more freedom. Its weird but I am experiencing this and its really nice to be learning of the ideal, practicing it and then realising that life is so much better. Its exactly as it was promised it would be if we obeyed.
So to that, Merry Christmas bloggers! I am off to Aotearoa for Christmas and NYs and for the first time in years, I am really looking forward to Christmas this year!