December 24, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – I have made it a habit during the Christmas season to always wish those I encounter in stores and elsewhere a “Merry Christmas”. When someone initially says “Happy Holidays” to me, my response is “and a Merry Christmas to you.” And you know, there has never been a problem. Frequently, the person appears to be relieved that someone is not playing the politically correct game with them, especially if their store bosses have ordered them to say only the pathetic “Happy Holidays.”
Another witness is through outdoor Christmas decorations. For many years we have had a lighted, manger scene in the front of our house surrounded by many lights on our bushes and tree. The old manger was eventually getting damaged by years of winter weather and I found it took several years to find a replacement. They are no longer anywhere near as available as they used to be. My daughter in Virginia finally found a suitable replacement online that I could order.
The new manger scene is larger and more artsy looking, but it does the job in explicitly witnessing to the reality that Christmas is all about the birth of the Christ child and not about blown up, huge, lighted and moving snowmen, Santas, elves and other figures that we see on many front lawns. We have received a lot of compliments on the manger scene, even from strangers and non-Christians.
Last year, a few days before Christmas, I was also blessed to see a large and beautiful angel statue in a Canadian Tire store that had been drastically reduced in price. That angel is not only now part of our nativity scene, but is kept at the front of the house year-round as a sign of the guardian angel of our home.
Inside the house, we have always placed a Christmas manger scene in a prominent place in our living room. Of all the Christmas preparations, that is the first one, along with an Advent wreath, that is put up at the beginning of Advent as a constant reminder of the all-encompassing importance of this sacred time of the year.
And of course, the most important Christmas witnessing is to be extra kind, patient, charitable and generous to those we meet during the Christmas season and to take every opportunity that is appropriate to refer to the holiness of this great commemoration of the birth of the Savior of the world. Visiting the sick and inviting in the lonely witness to the love of Christ for all of mankind.
Christmas has drastically changed for my wife Bonnie and I in the past few years since all but one of our eight children have moved out and all of them have in-laws that they must naturally also celebrate the feast with. So, things are far quieter around here Christmas Eve and during most of the Christmas season than they used to be when all the children were at home. Actually, during this stage in life, with years of exceptional busyness and attending our children’s many Christmas concerts behind us, we usually enjoy this new contemplative-assisting experience.
On the other hand, when the children do visit, it is as though a large bus has pulled up and they come pouring out with their spouses and now 20 grandchildren on the rare occasions when the two Virginia based families also come up. Then the house that always used to be adequate, seems way too small. Still, we have a wonderful time, with the children all happily running around with each other and the adults, all of whom get along remarkably well, spend precious time with each other.
The Christmas Eve Mass and then Christmas Day dinner and family time together is my favorite time of every year. The highlight of every Christmas Day occurs just before presents are given out. Our children and grandchildren process from a back room towards the manger with all the manger figures and several burning candles, singing Away in a Manger, as they one by one place the figures into the manger. Then we break out into a very enthusiastic Happy Birthday to Jesus followed by a lot of laughter.
We have our struggles and considerable challenges, as does any family, but we have also been greatly blessed. We are indeed grateful and realize our situation is not the norm today for many families. The joy and peace of Christmas helps us to not take our blessings for granted and to understand that we must do whatever we can to help others experience the wonderful true meaning and blessings of Christmas.
May God abundantly bless all of you and your families and friends this Christmas season and may you above all experience the special inner peace that only Jesus Christ can give, no matter what your particular circumstances may be.