As a young girl in elementary school at Maryknoll (now Miriam College), we were given little “blue books” which portrayed Ecclesiastes 3, the passage “A time for everything,” in photographs. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens,” the passage began.
Those lines did not resonate so much for me; as an eight-year-old and in second grade, the only thing that mattered then was time for play, time to go home, and time to eat.
The concept of having “time for everything” changes as one grows up, and the responsibilities of daily living begin to pile up.
The definition and meaning change even further at age 50, and later in your senior years, realizing the little time that you have been left to do.
The concept of time, and of making the most of it, strikes even closer to home when you lose someone you love, or when you are apart from a loved one.
In this season of homecomings and balikbayan relatives of OFWs visiting for the holidays, time becomes more precious. With packed schedules, there isn’t enough to make room for everyone near and dear.
In a season where everything is in a frenzy and “Carmaggedon” is a painful daily reality, the real meaning of the season is often lost on many people.
One day last week, when tempers were soaring, my daughter Pia and I had a discussion about the negativity that seems to permeate the air in malls and restaurants whenever Christmas is near. A few days later, she wrote something on her Facebook wall that is a reminder, not only at Christmas, but for each day as well.
“So this is just a friendly reminder—while you spend a few hours in a very stressful mall or bazaar, the waiters, salespeople and parking attendants are there on their feet the whole day.
“This Christmas (and every day of the year!), remember: patience and kindness always. When the lines are long, hold back the eye-rolling, be a little more patient. Be sure to smile at the salespeople who welcome you into stores, the parking attendants around the lot, the guards who inspect your bags. When someone hands you a flyer, smile and take it, or politely apologize when you can’t give them time. Thank those who assist you. Let them know you appreciate what they’re doing, and greet them a heartfelt ‘Merry Christmas’ (or ‘Happy New Year’) whenever you can.”
No room at the inn
The homestretch to Christmas can either be stressful, or blessed. It’s always a choice. One can only imagine the stress that Joseph and Mary had when they couldn’t find lodging, when there was no room at the inn. Oh, but when baby Jesus was born, whatever pain there was seemed inconsequential in the face of the blessings that lay before them.
So, for the rest of the holidays, sensitivities abound, tempers tend to flare, hurtful words are exchanged, and obnoxious behavior in traffic and in the malls becomes rampant. Step back, then, and pause to remember what’s important.
I’ve seen that in my own life. Only very recently, soon after my birthday, I was completely blindsided, and found myself in a state of “finding no room at the inn.” It was during that same week that I received an e-mail asking me what I was grateful for, now that Christmas was almost here. At that point, I was angry, and wanted to lash out at the sender, but decided to hold myself in check.
“It gets really, really dark, and then baby Jesus is born.” I read that passage a few weeks after the incident, at one of my lowest points. It filled me with hope.
Christmas came a few days early for me this year. Faithful to His promise, my Savior has once again come through for me, as He does with all of us. So, yes, it will be a much more meaningful Christmas, and there is so much to be grateful for, especially in this golden year.
Only by His grace. We are so unworthy, but He continues to save us. Every Christmas we are given the chance to celebrate and express gratitude; it is a beautiful reminder of that boundless love He has for each one of us. Jesus is the true meaning of the season—may we never ever forget that.
Wishing you all a truly blessed and meaningful Christ-mas, wrapped in His grace, laced with joy-filled moments, and surrounded by everyone you love.