A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Struggling to Find the Holiday Spirit

Posted on: December 17, 2015

My husband’s arguments to the contrary, I don’t think Die Hard is a Christmas movie; it’s a movie that happens to take place at Christmas. I think a Christmas movie has a main character who discovers the true meaning of Christmas or who receives a Christmas gift of love, forgiveness or compassion.

Some people, though, may not even want to think about watching one of the many schmaltzy holiday movies on TV right now, let alone debating whether they’re really Christmas films. I’m thinking of people who are grieving even as Christmas approaches.

Some of the hyper-festive holiday music on the radio might also be too much, I thought to myself as I listened to the laidback, jazzy soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas this morning. And the holiday lights and decorations and greeting cards? Too cheery.

Nanny's birthday

My mother with my grandmother on Nanny’s 80th birthday

I love everything about Christmas, but even I get a little sad sometimes while looking at the holiday treats—which seems silly, unless you knew that my mom’s mother loved receiving boxed chocolates as gifts, enjoyed an After Eight after Christmas dinner, and always gave my father a tin of cashews “From Santa.”

When life is on a relatively even keel and we’re looking forward to Christmas, it can be hard to remember that the holidays are challenging for some.

We could pause when we’re sending out cards and year-end letters to think about who might appreciate a thoughtful personal note more than a cheery greeting. For example, my mom, writing up her Christmas cards, realized that more low-key cards would be better for the three widowers on her card list, two of them facing Christmas as a single for the first time in decades.

We could give some thought as to which of our relatives, friends or neighbours might find themselves spending Christmas dinner alone because the spouse who did the cooking no longer lives there or has passed away. When I was growing up, after my dad’s mother died, his father spent Christmas Eve with us for a number of years.

We could also consider who might welcome a friendly visit as they struggle with the holidays—so focussed on children—because a child in their life has lost the battle with illness. Or who might appreciate a hand with their holiday preparations because they’re dealing with their own illness or that of a parent, a reality for many today as our population ages.

As we anticipate celebrating Christmas, may we be mindful of this prayer intention of the Holy Father for December:

That families, especially those who suffer, may find in the birth of Jesus a sign of certain hope.






Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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