Opening to Grace: Christmas an invitation for families to value what they really love

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Rev. Shelley Stickel-Miles is an ordained minister working alongside all the delightful ministers at Trinity United Church in Creston.

Rev. Shelley Stickel-Miles is an ordained minister working alongside all the delightful ministers at Trinity United Church in Creston.

Can I invite you to think of the excitement of Christmas as an invitation inward, into the heart, and into the valuing of what you and your family really love?

There have been some helpful books about Christmas preparation to help guide us back to a simple, rich and delightful way of celebrating the spirit that has been born in us: Unplug the Christmas Tree by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppach Staeheli, You can Choose Christmas by Clyde Reid and Treasury of Celebrations: Create Celebrations that Reflect Your Values and Don’t Cost the Earth edited by Carolyn Pogue.

Robinson says four things children really need and want for Christmas are:

•relaxed and loving time with family;

•realistic expectations about gifts;

•an evenly paced holiday season; and

•strong family traditions.

Parents can think ahead about the gathering of energy during Advent and talk to children about things they’d like to have happen. Joy is about being fully alive, so think ahead about how to eliminate the stress and pressure that can build and make you feel depleted instead. What simple activities like lighting candles, playing a game together, singing or telling stories can you do together in this season to slow it down? Recall Christmases past, especially with grandparents.

Seniors and those who live on your own, what one or two simple things might you take part in that are special to the season and might give you a new perspective? Choose a night to sit with a friend and talk about your childhood Christmases, and what your heart yearns for now. Toast the beauty of the night.

When you think about gift giving, is there any part of yourself that holds back? What is it that you want to say with this gift? Can you also say it out loud? Can you receive openly, and let your heart be thankful for the message of love and connection? There are many alternative gift options. You can get a card for a donation to hospice, the hospital or a childcare centre, and many in Creston donate to the Creston Ministerial Association for the hamper program. The United Church takes donations for the new refugee family who will arrive this week, or bed kits for Sleeping Children Around the World. No matter who you are, there is always a way to open your heart to another. What is it you really care about?

Anyone can have a special evening when they read a children’s Christmas book alone or together. My favourite is The Littlest Angel, a gift of story.

May you all remember the gift of the beauty of the spirit that is in your own heart this season. You are precious firelight. Blessings from Rev. Shelley and Trinity United Church!

Rev. Shelley Stickel-Miles is an ordained minister who works alongside all the delightful ministers at Trinity United Church in Creston.