Celebrating Christ’s Birth

It is no secret that I am not fond of birthdays. There are years that I would like to avoid my birthday altogether. However, as we talked today in church about Christ’s birthday. I thought about what Christmas represents.

Christmas is a day to remember Christ. So, how would he want us to remember Him? By giving of ourselves- giving to others, helping others, loving others. That is how Christ spent His life. In truth, the birth of Jesus was a gift from both Christ and the Father. Jesus gave us the gift of His life- of becoming mortal so that He could save us, serve us, and show us how to live like Him. And the Father gave us the gift of His Son.

I think that the Spirit of Christmas is the perfect way to celebrate Christ’s birthday because we strive to do exactly what He did in His mortal life- give, love, serve. I hope my birthday can help people remember those things, too. But I am grateful for the perfect example to celebrate with “peace on earth, goodwill to men.”

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My Biggest Fear

My biggest fear has always been hurting people. I used to think that my biggest fear was that I would lose my battle with depression, that I would finally succeed in ending my life. I was afraid of anything that could hurt me because I thought about dying so much and so often that I feared I might not be able to stop myself if I had the means to end my life. But I realized that I ultimately feared killing myself because I knew it would hurt people.

My fear has decreased in the last few years, but I used to be terrified of hurting another human being. l was so scared that at one point, I tried to avoid people all together. Memories still haunt me occasionally of times that I unintentionally hurt someone.

On the other side of fear, though, is a burning desire to help others and make their lives a little better or easier or happier. My entire life has been dedicated to making others happy. It is my favorite thing to do. I cannot stop myself from wanting to do things for others.

Due to experiences growing up, I used to hate myself for my desires to do kind things for others. I believed that I was a flawed person that did not know how to help anyone and that the people I did things for might be offended or inconvenienced by my kind gesture. These thoughts sent me into a spiral of depression and self-destruction every time I did something for someone.

I remember the first time I did something for someone and wasn’t flooded with a wave of guilt afterward. I took a box of little gifts with a note on it to one of my friends and dropped it off on her porch after she had a rough couple of days. I treasure that memory because it was the first time I gave a gift to a friend without hating myself for it.

I absolutely adore Christmas because I get to give to others without feeling out of place or different from the rest of the world. I am grateful for the opportunities to serve and to give that Christmas offers. I am grateful for this time of year that makes my deepest desires seem normal. I wish we all treated each other as though every day was part of the Christmas season, maybe then I would not feel so out of place when I do something kind for another human being.

Grateful for Stuff

I have never put much value in material things. I always have a hard time coming up with a Christmas list because I don’t really want anything other than the basics- food, clothes, a place to live, warmth, transportation, etc. However, if you look at my movies or games or books or room decorations, it is pretty obvious that I have a lot of stuff.  But for me, the stuff isn’t important. It’s what the stuff means that is important.

I have a collection of snow globes and music boxes. Whenever my nieces or nephew come into my room, they enjoy listening to the music and looking at the fun characters inside the globes or boxes. These decorations are an attachment to the children in my life that mean so much to me. Movies are a major form of entertainment in our household. We all watch some form of movie or show almost every day. My movies are a way to gather the family in excitement and anticipation. The same is true of my games. My games are a way to spend time with friends or family in a fun way.

My biggest collection by far is the stuff I have for gifts. I have boxes and bags and closets full of gifts for people. I buy things for all the people in my life all year long, whenever I see something I know they would like. Then, when a birthday or Christmas comes around, I take things out and decide what to give that person for that particular occasion. The gifts I buy and store are an expression of my love for others.

So today, I am grateful for stuff because it allows me to express what is important to me. It allows me to have an outlet for my love for others. Stuff gives me a way to give, to love, to spend time with someone, to be myself. I would be okay if all of my stuff simply disappeared, but I am grateful for the joy it provides to me and others while I have this stuff to give.

A Little Christmas

This year we had the biggest Christmas I have ever had in my entire life. Well, biggest in terms of presents. We had a ton of presents this year. So many presents in fact that we were tired of opening presents by the time we had gotten to the end. We have never had a Christmas like this before. And to be honest, I hope we never do again.

I have decided that I like a little Christmas. Just a few presents and some genuine quality time. I’d rather have one gift that I can cherish and appreciate than 10 gifts that I won’t remember a year from now. Don’t get me wrong, I love gifts and I love giving gifts, but gifts mean more when there are less of them.

In my family, we have always opened our gifts one by one. Each person gets to see what each other person is opening and we get excited for the presents that we give and that others have given. It’s never been about the presents. It’s been about us. And I really missed that this year.

I miss getting excited when I see what other people have received, being happy for them because I know it is something they will enjoy. I miss each gift being unwrapped carefully because we treasure the time and thought that went into it. But mostly I miss the feeling I have when my family comes together to celebrate each other.

Yes, we celebrate the birth of our Savior at Christmas. But by giving each other carefully planned and picked out gifts, we celebrate our brothers and sisters. And I think that’s how Christ would want it to be.

I think if Christ were at our Christmas celebration, He would give us a carefully wrapped gift that reminded Him of us. He wouldn’t flood us with presents or try to get us the most expensive thing he could afford. He would give us something we hadn’t even realized we wanted that would remind us that He loves us and knows us and was thinking about us.

So next year, I’m committing to one gift and only one gift. It may be multiple items that tie into one, but it will be something that I’ve planned and picked out because I love who I am giving it to. And I will wrap that gift carefully and unwrap my gifts carefully because it will be our hearts wrapped in shiny paper to share with each other for that sacred day.