The Christmas season draws out a mix of emotions. Many families celebrate Christmas with feasting and merrymaking. Others dread the rush to buy the obligatory presents. Still others may feel sad if Christmas is associated with loss or loneliness.
For those who are struggling with the pain of loss or loneliness, I am confident that you will find cheer in your life again. He who made us knows our needs, and He knows it is not good for us to be alone. Though there may be seasons of aloneness, times of friendship and companionship will come again. My confidence also stems from knowing that our Heavenly Father is always near and yearns for us to fellowship with Him. Let our first communion with another begin with Him.
For those not afflicted with sadness or grief, there is a message here for you too. Most of us may know of a few lonely souls. How about sharing some Christian cheer with them this season? The joy of family and friends is not just for us to experience and hoard—it is also to be shared with others.
Christmas reminds us of how Jesus’ earthly family were visitors to Jerusalem, and without welcome or shelter on the verge of His birth. With this in mind, why not open your home and share a Christmas meal with those who are far from home and family?
Christmas is a time of gift giving. Instead of just giving a nicely-wrapped present, how about adding a few personal words to bring to mind what Christmas is truly about? Christmas has become so secularised that in some countries, “Happy Holidays” has replaced “Merry Christmas”. Highlighting the significance of Christmas is a way of spreading Christian cheer.
Finally, we could borrow a custom observed by our Muslim friends who begin each new year by asking for forgiveness from family members that they might have hurt or offended during the past year. We could even go further and first forgive those who have offended us in the past year. What a lovely way of helping loved ones or friends begin the year with a clean slate! Forgiveness also allows us to free ourselves from past hurt.
You may have noticed my use of “Christian cheer” instead of “Christmas cheer”. I have done so deliberately to reclaim in a small way what this season is about—it is a call to remember that beyond the feasting and merry making, Christmas is a time to rejoice that Jesus was born a baby to put in motion God’s plan for our salvation. That Joy came to the world, so let the whole earth rejoice!
Benny Bong has been a family and marital therapist for more than 30 years, and is a certified work-life consultant. He was the first recipient of the AWARE Hero Award, received in 2011, and is a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.
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