Recently, friends invited me to venture out to a discount store where we discovered holiday sundries, including chocolates, cooking oils and items I couldn’t imagine using.
The bright, ornate packages were strategically placed and screamed “Buy me, Buy me.”
“Yep, the holidays are here,” my friend said.
Though marketers would want plastic figurines and decadent treats to remind us of the approach of Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas, I suggest we prayerfully begin considering how we will celebrate and observe the upcoming holidays.
Additionally, it might be helpful to consider how we best emotionally and spiritually approach the “most wonderful time of the year.”
Before a turkey is purchased and another recipe is pinned on Pinterest, take a few minutes to pray and seek God how you should proceed in the weeks to come.
Even faithful Christians with the intent of remembering the reason for Christmas can get derailed with all of the demands of the season, advertising and societal pressure. However, preparing in prayer can create an environment for days filled with more gratitude and reflection – and with less seasonal stress.
Are there new traditions you would like for your family to begin, or must adjustments be made because of the transition of a loved one? Yes, the absence of a loved one shifts the atmosphere, and if we are not prepared, the atmosphere may be ripe for something more complex than the holiday blues.
Consider how you will honor and remember your loved ones while appreciating the gifts of living family and friends.
For some, things have shifted financially. Though it feels more comfortable to make Christmas big by any means necessary, consider the consequences. If you are trying to keep up with the Joneses, you might want to consider they moved across town after foreclosure.
Determine the financial lane you are in and stay right there.
While our purchases help maintain the vitality of the economy, don’t try to overstimulate by purchasing more food than needed or gifts that may soon be forgotten.
Practicality is not usually at the top of our lists when Christmas shopping. But would it be more thoughtful to buy a friend or loved one a gift card for an oil change, a AAA membership or necessities they have silently gone without?
For families with children, this time could be used to reinforce messages on hospitality and stewardship.
Giving away some used clothes and toys benefits all parties, but would the message be better communicated if your family prayed for and shopped for people in need?
With the approach of Advent, which is a season of prayer and fasting where Christians await the coming of Jesus Christ, I offer these reflections as a reminder for people of faith to stay focused on who we are and in whom we believe.
THE REV. ARLECIA D. SIMMONS IS AN ASSOCIATE MINISTER AT TABERNACLE BAPTIST CHURCH.