Where Are You Christmas?

"Where Are You Christmas?" is a song featured in the Jim Carrey version of The Grinch. I don't know why, but it's a song I find myself listening to at least once every holiday season. While it's not really a top seasonal tune, it is sung by Faith Hill, a fellow Mississippian. (Maybe that's why!)

One line starts, "My world is changing / I'm rearranging / Does that mean Christmas changes too." While I don't believe Christmas or the reason for the season changes, I have come to realize that the way in which it's celebrated often does—maybe more than we'd like it to. 

Over the past few weeks, quite a few people have asked me "What are your holiday traditions?" My quick response is "Eat, and eat a lot." Those that know my family also know that that will likely never change. Nevertheless, our Christmas time does seem to look different every year.

As I got ready to fly home this year, I found myself thinking, "I just want to be with my family." Usually, I care (probably too much) about how our Christmas card will look, who will come over for dinner and when, and what gifts will coordinate with what I'd given that person the year before. (The planner in me definitely comes out over the holidays!) Don't get me wrong: that stuff is fun. However, this year's priority was just to be with my family and rest.

Later in the song, Faith sings, "If there is love in your heart and your mind / You will feel like Christmas all the time." I think that is why I'm okay to "roll with it." This year has taught me how easy it is to get caught up in surface-level, trivial things, which often cause us to miss out on important moments, conversations, and decisions. And, frankly, I don't want that to continue. Life's too short, and we're not promised tomorrow.

I don't know where are you this Christmas, but I hope you'll consider these few things. They've helped me as of late, and I believe they can help you too.

TELL THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE HOW YOU FEEL

This is often something that's overlooked as an understood, but that shouldn't be the case. If you care about people, tell them, and maybe show them too. For me, assumptions have been the butt of too many missteps, which all could have been addressed better if I'd just spoken up (out of love and respect of course!). 

Whether it's your mom who needs help grocery shopping, your significant other who's meeting your family for the first time, or your neighbor going through a hard time, offer a word or a moment of encouragement. Get off your phone, and spend time with them. 

PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS AND SHARE THEM

Holiday dinners can sometimes get a bad reputation as "boring, confrontational, or awkward." Play to your strengths and make them not be that way. If you cook, bake something to share (and then talk about the recipe, etc.). If you sing, lead the group in caroling. If you like photography, make sure to get some snapshots of the whole crew. Ultimately, use what you like to your advantage and welcome others into it.

I've found that larger gatherings are much better when you actively seek out people, ask them questions, and listen to their responses. Maybe it's your cousin who's about to start an internship or your aunt who's pursuing nature photography, or your grandmother who's making new friends at the retirement center. Take time to enjoy their company and listen to their stories (even if they're the same ones you heard at last year's Christmas dinner, ha!).

REMEMBER THE REASON FOR THE SEASON

The hustle and bustle of the season is fun until it stresses you out. Admittedly, I've gotten caught up in the thick of it before, but I actively tried not to this year. Ultimately, because that's not why Christmas should be celebrated. There's a more eternal meaning. 

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.

(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’
— Luke 2:1-14