Tag Archives: Christmas

Joy of Christmas

Every Christmas I find a Christmas carol which rings in my head the entire season. In most cases it’s a reflection of my feelings. It’s not something I do consciously; I just hear a song and depending on my mood, I’ll find myself singing it over and over again.

This Christmas, two songs have stood out: John T. Williams’ Home Alone 2 (movie) version of ‘Somewhere in my memories’ and Pentatonix’ ‘Where are you Christmas?’ The former fills me with nostalgia as I remember the happy feelings I always have on Christmas.

The latter on the other hand, is an expression of the turmoil in my head this season:

Where are you Christmas?

Why can’t I find you?

Why have you gone away?

Where is the laughter you used to bring me?

Why can’t I hear music play?

My world is changing

I’m rearranging

Does that mean Christmas changes too?

Yesterday was Christmas day…for some reason however, it did not feel quite like it. In the evening I looked at my phone, and obviously the date on the screen was 25th December. If I didn’t know better, I would say my phone was malfunctioning, because the day itself just felt ordinary. I was not bubbling over with my usual Christmas cheer…and neither were my family members.

Light-heartedly, I said, “My phone shows it’s 25th….and that’s Christmas day!”

“What?” My big sis, getting what I was insinuating feigned surprise. Mom however, did not get my drift so she said it was Christmas indeed.

“Of course it’s Christmas,” I affirmed. “It just doesn’t feel like it”. Christmas is usually a big deal to me. It is my favourite season of the year. To me, it represents hope. My sisters and I have this tradition of watching Hallmark Christmas movies. For anyone who’s into them like we are, you will notice they are relatively predictable.

Most are usually premised on a love story, where a lady and a guy meet. Over time they develop feelings for each other, but then they run into what feels like an insurmountable hurdle. With determination either from both parties or just one of them, they find a grand solution to the problem and they end up together. Sometimes there’s a dash of Christmas magic…

My sisters and I are big on happy endings. Therefore it’s not hard to understand why these movies are so appealing to us. In a way, they are a representation of hope: broken families are reunited; lonely hearts find love, people who had stopped believing in the Christmas magic find a reason to believe again…  The movies are simply inundated with hope, and that’s what Christmas is all about; the wonderful gift of hope.

This year though, I have been running low on the Christmas cheer. I know a huge contributor to that has been this awful fatigue that’s been making me feel so worn out. This year has been a very busy one for me. At the start of the year I got into bar school and I only managed to come up for air when I finished my bar exams in late November.

Seemingly, the fatigue has aggravated my anxiety so I’ve been feeling on edge these last couple of weeks. Everytime I try to shake off the angst but the general atmosphere at home hasn’t helped the situation. This, I think, is what has robbed me off my Christmas cheer this season.

I know I’m not the only one who feels like the song by Pentatonix voices out their emotion, and there are several reasons this could be attributed to: it could be a family feud that has members distancing themselves from each other; or it could be because one has been hoping by the time the year ends they will have found love but they haven’t yet.

It could also be because a couple was hoping to get a child this year but they haven’t; or someone was hoping to get an end of year promotion but it didn’t come. It could also be because one’s fallen behind on paying their debts now they are drowning in arrears…the list is endless.

During the third Sunday of Advent, that is last Sunday but one, the priest gave an uplifting sermon about the joy of Christmas…and yesterday in church he reiterated what he had said then: the reason for this Christmas season is Jesus Christ.

We often think that having everything in life will make us happy. However, that is a fallacy. I remember watching Alladin, where Will Smith, who plays the genie cautions Alladin against drinking from the cup of voracious power because, not even all the money in the world could ever feel enough. That is true. The more one gets, the more they want…

In reality, the things we think might bring us joy might just turn out to be the bane of our lives: the child a couple thought would bring them joy might be the one who brings them tears and immense sadness; the spouse one waited for, for so long might be one who causes them anguish.

In light of this, we need to realize that all the joy we need can only be found in Jesus Christ. When one finds the joy of Christ, they can be happy even when they’re sick, childless, hungry…etc. That’s the joy we’re reminded to find this season. Speaking from experience, I know that’s easier said than done…but when we find that joy, everything will feel right…

I sort of got stuck on the first part of Pentatonix’ song, but towards the end, lies the answer:

Christmas is here… everywhere

If you care

If there is love in your heart and your mind

You will feel like Christmas all the time.

As we’re nearing the end of year 2019, I wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous Year 2020!

Beautiful December

December just came and has flown by so fast, I’m having trouble accepting 2018’s almost over. I had been waiting for this year’s Christmas since last year but how it just came and passed quietly has really astounded me. We’re practically doing the countdown to the ushering in of the New Year and I’m here wondering how the Christmas festivities eluded me…We have a half-decorated tree to show for it.

However, the Grinch is not to blame for our failure to have a ‘proper’ Christmas. On the contrary, this month has been a beehive of activities…and good ones at that. The month basically started off with my birthday celebration. Then while we were still feasting on the birthday cake, we started preparing for my graduation. Last Friday, I was conferred the degree of Bachelor of Laws. In light of this, this is my first post as a lawyer. It still feels so surreal.

With my graduation behind us, Christmas was at the doorstep, waiting to be let in. By then, my family and I were recovering from the graduation fatigue. Given how much time we spent on the preparations, by the time I was graduating I hadn’t been sleeping enough; and my family hadn’t either. As Friday approached, we were eagerly waiting for the day to pass so we could go back home and rest. Therefore, when we got back home later in the day, we just slept.

Since then we’ve been squeezing in time for siestas in between meals, after mass…pretty much while transitioning from one activity to the other. For the first time in almost forever, I slept on the afternoon of 24th December. I hadn’t planned on that but when sleep came knocking I couldn’t resist. That day I had woken up early, made buttermilk pancakes for the family and shortly after, I was counting the Z’s.

I slept through lunch and later that evening I got up, prepared supper for the family and it was Christmas Eve. By then, we hadn’t found the time to put up our decorations. Though we’d attempted to a couple of times, we hadn’t quite gotten to do it. We had tried putting them up on 23rd. However, we found out our Christmas lights had stopped working and therefore needed to be replaced.

That evening mom and dad went to buy new ones but as is common with late shopping when things are on high demand, the lights were out of stock everywhere they checked. Before then, it had never occurred to me that the Christmas lights might be impossible to find. That’s why our tree ended up half decorated, because once we realised it wouldn’t be glowing like it should, the psych for decorating went out the window.

For the last four years I hardly celebrated the holidays because I was too busy reading for exams or trying to complete some assignment. Since I finished law school, I had imagined this would be the best Christmas. Little did I know it would just be overshadowed by school-related stuff, again!

Now with 2019 edging closer, I’m thinking about all the expectations I had for this Christmas. While most of them only remain dreams, I’m still thanking God for helping my family and I celebrate this one. It wasn’t what I had in mind…but the phrase, ‘count your blessings’ comes to mind. Though I know this Christmas could have turned out better, I also know given the circumstances, it was actually the best.

A day after my graduation, one of my lecturers called to congratulate me and I was just lamenting about how my Christmas had just slipped through my fingers since we didn’t have any plans for the festive season; and he comfortingly told me in life we need to do what needs to be done. Christmas comes every year but graduations only happen rarely. I saw the sense in his words.

Most of December was spent preparing for my graduation and even though that wasn’t what I had anticipated, I’m still so grateful because my mere graduation was a colossal blessing to start with. God made everything fall into place. So all factors considered, December has been a very beautiful month… I turned a year older, became a lawyer and got to celebrate the best holiday of my life, Christmas.

One major thing I’ve learned is that though things may not always go as anticipated, God makes everything alright. Like a jigsaw puzzle, every little piece just falls into place gradually. We only need to be very patient and open-minded…to love and appreciate things as they happen according to God’s will, because His plans are the best.

Given that we’re still celebrating the holidays, I wish you the happiest…

And a very Happy & Prosperous Year 2019!

 

Christmas Eve

Tomorrow is Christmas! How cool is that? I don’t know if it’s just me, but there’s this very beautiful feeling about Christmas that spices up the general aura; everything feels better. I guess this is what is commonly referred to as the Christmas Spirit. To my family and I, This Christmas isn’t like last year in so many ways, and this is one of the primary reasons I’m profoundly telling God thank you.

Unlike last year when we put up the Christmas decorations on a day like today (Christmas Eve) and almost missed Christmas because everyone in the house was held up, this year we put them up relatively early; at the start of the month. It’s been awesome really. Furthermore, some cousins from the countryside visited so we have a full house; and you know what they say, “the more the merrier’.

Even nature conspired to make this Christmas a success; Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday, so for those who like attending the Christmas vigil mass, they will attend two masses today: the normal morning mass, which marks the last Sunday of Advent; and the evening mass, which marks the birth of Christ.

Christmas signifies different things to people. Some value it as a religious feast, where the world celebrates the greatest gift of God to mankind; His only begotten child. To others it’s about the gifts and the celebrations; spending the holiday with loved ones… For whatever reason we cherish Christmas, it’s imperative that we spread the Christmas cheer, and we don’t need to reach out to people who are so far from us. It could even be to those around us; whether friends or foes.

Depending on one’s age, one may have celebrated a couple of Christmases so far. Question is, what’s been different with those Christmases? Have you met anyone, or encountered a situation which made a particular Christmas feel exceptionally good? This Christmas we have a chance to make someone else’s holidays good. We’re therefore called to remember those who are needy at this time.

Now that we’re celebrating Christmas tomorrow, the implication is that the year is drawing to a close. 2017 is almost over. It’s that time of the year when we evaluate the New Year resolutions we fulfilled, and the ones we didn’t. It’s also that time of the year when we make new resolutions for the new year.

As we evaluate the progress we’ve made this year, we shouldn’t get discouraged if there were set goals we didn’t achieve. All we need to always remember is that God makes all things possible. Every new day, is another opportunity He presents to us to make good on those plans, so we shouldn’t get discouraged.

Furthermore, we need to remember that though we may have dreams, God has plans for us and those plans will override our own desires. When David wanted to build a temple for God, he didn’t realise that dream because God’s plan was for his son Solomon to do it instead.

In addition to that, when the Virgin Mary conceived of the Holy Spirit, she was betrothed to Joseph. They were both afraid of the Immaculate Conception for various reasons: Joseph was reluctant to marry a woman who was pregnant by ‘another man’, and Mary was afraid she would be stoned to death for ‘adultery’, which at the time was like a capital offence.

They were both afraid, and things were not going according to how they had planned but they trusted in God. That’s what we need to do; trust in Him. We need to give Him space to work in our lives; and if Mary’s story is anything to go by, He will make it worth our while. Thousands of years later, we still celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary, because Her Son Jesus Christ is the reason for this season!

So as we do our countdown to the commemoration of the birth of Christ, we need to remember that His birth is a symbol of hope. Therefore, we need to cross over to the New Year with tonnes and tonnes of hope, because God is in control. Bottom line is, whatever you do, keep believing…

May the new born Christ fill your hearts with unending joy… I wish you all the merriest of Christmases, and a Happy and prosperous Year 2018!

Happy holidays!

 

That time of the year again

It’s the holidays again. Would you believe? Cuz I don’t… honestly! Where did the year go? I woke up on 1st January 2016, did a few things here and there, slept, woke up again… and bam! The year’s gone… just like that. Up until yesterday I had my head buried deep in books. Didn’t even get time to nurture the Christmas spirit. You know, that inexplicable super awesome feeling that adds some merry-touch to everything?

Now tomorrow’s Christmas and I couldn’t feel emptier. In my house we were all so tied up that we didn’t get time to put up Christmas decorations. Mom’s feeling the most deprived. She’s been coming home from work, and every time she’s disappointed to find the corner reserved for the Christmas tree still empty.

merry-christmas-2

I feel her; even felt guilty to some extent. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do anything about it. I had exams to revise for; had my last paper yesterday. So now the exams are behind me but the Christmas cheer couldn’t feel further… and that right there, is my dilemma. It almost feels like my family and I are skipping Christmas, God forbid.

We’re going to salvage whatever’s left of Christmas because for us it’s not just a day, but a season. Hopefully, the ensuing days will make up for the lost time. However, looking back at how this year has been like, I know I have so much to thank God for.

Our ship, if I may call it, so has been rocked by so much turbulence. We’ve cried, got so close to despairing; but by God’s grace we’ve made it this far. For me, that counts for so much. If you feel like me, don’t let yourself get discouraged. Count your blessings. However insignificant it may seem; be grateful for whatever has made you smile, even if it’s only once this year. And just the simple fact that God has granted us this wonderful gift of life and guided us through this year is reason enough to thank Him and praise His Holy name.

merry-christmas

As we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ tomorrow, I wish you the merriest of Christmases. May God fill your hearts with immeasurable joy and peace… And may He, in His abundant mercy, grant you a Happy and Prosperous New Year 2017.

Happy holidays!

‘Tis the season to be jolly!

Santa Claus

It’s Christmas again!

Would you believe that? Where did all the time go? It feels like it’s only yesterday we were celebrating Christmas. Last year’s Christmas is still so fresh in my mind. I’ve been so busy all year round that now I feel like I haven’t prepared enough for tomorrow.

One thing I learned is that Christmas is not just a day. It’s a season. So it’s never about 25th December only. It’s composed of the days preceding the material day and even the days after. Up until last week Wednesday I was busy revising for exams and honestly I feel like I need more time to get myself in the Christmassy mood.

Looking around me I see Christmas decorations, on the streets, and even in my house. But truth is, I really don’t feel this Christmas. However, deep down I know it’s not just reading for exams that has deprived me off of the Christmas cheer, it’s been some of the things going on in my family; the depressing stuff. So now it’s Christmas and I feel unprepared.

From my own experiences, I’ll keep reiterating, Christmas is not just about giving gifts and travelling to all the fancy places in the world; it’s about spending time with our loved ones, making them feel cherished; just spreading some cheer. It’s true what they say; ‘the best things in life are free’.

Putting a smile on another person’s face need not cost a single dime. Sometimes it’s about dedicating a few minutes of our time to those who need us; using our God-given talents to cheer others up. So now that it will be Christmas day in just a few hours, we still have time to put smiles on people’s faces. We have time to let go off the grudges we’ve been holding, and to forgive those who may have wronged us in whatever way.

If there’s something you can do to make another person happy, do it. You’d be surprised what doing good does to our souls. It livens us up in ways so unimaginable. And what better time to do it than now? It’s Christmas y’all.

Listen to all Christmas carols as is humanly possible because we only get to listen to them once every year; and that time is now. And while you’re at it, have the merriest of Christmases. 🙂

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAVE A HAPPY & PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR 2016!

christmas tree

What will people think about me?

Saint Joseph

Whom to please, God or man?

How many times have you found yourself conflicted about whom to please? To please God, or to do all you can to please fellow men. Many times most of us find ourselves at odds, especially when it’s something we feel we need to do so we can look cool; so we don’t lose credibility in our friends’ eyes, yet doing that precise thing would make us fall from God’s grace.

During this period, as we count down minutes to the birth of Christ, we get to learn from the story of a man, who is not celebrated a lot- he fades into the background once the star of the season (Jesus) comes to the scene; and not to mention His Blessed mother- a virgin, who conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.

We’re going to focus on the story of Joseph, Jesus’ father, because from him there’s so much to learn. As most of us are aware of, Joseph and Mary were Jews, and at the time Mary conceived, she and Joseph were not married. They were only engaged and had therefore not consummated their relationship.

Actually, at the time, so much would have gone wrong if God-forbid they had engaged in coitus before being married. For starters, Mary would probably have been stoned to death for engaging in sexual immorality. Now that brings me to Joseph. When Mary had that Immaculate Conception, he obviously knew the baby wasn’t his and he could have done what the men of this generation do without a tinge of remorse.

“He’s not mine!” Joseph would have denied vehemently, and unlike the guilty men who just bail on women they had been involved intimately with when they say they are pregnant, his denial would have been warranted. We, who have been enlightened about the story of Jesus of Nazareth, know Mary was a virgin when she conceived.

Joseph, however, did anything but. I’m thinking, if he was from this era we live in, he would have called Mary all those unholy names after making it clear that the baby she was expecting was not his. And maybe, just maybe, he would have called the authorities on her, given that they lived in a time when all these sexual shenanigans people from this era partake of so indiscreetly, would have cost them their lives.

But contrary to what would have been expected of a guy in his position, he accepted Mary. He didn’t care that maybe all those who knew the baby wasn’t his would have had him ostracized. The thing about most of us, is that we’re inherently afraid of being shunned by society, so whenever we feel like our actions might get us rejected by the larger society, we cower and do what will keep our relationships intact, caring less about what God will think of us.

Basically, if Joseph did what most us would have expected him to do, he wouldn’t have accepted Jesus because deep down he knew that was not his son. He would even have accused Mary of lying. I mean, just think, how often do women get pregnant by Immaculate Conception? It was just that one time; and Joseph believed it. He didn’t go all berserk, accusing her of whoring. God forbid!

Obviously, as the story goes, God intervened: Joseph contemplated breaking up with Mary but as he didn’t want to humiliate her in public, he planned on doing it in private; however, when he was asleep an angel of god appeared to him, asking him not to break the engagement as she had conceived by the Holy Spirit and the child would save mankind from sin. (Matthew 1:18-24)

But then again, how many times does the Holy Spirit speak to us and we blatantly ignore? I would say, severally. Joseph, however, listened to the voice of God, and accepted that Mary had been chosen to be the mother of Christ, and he unquestioningly, agreed to become the father of Jesus.

Joseph didn’t do what he thought would save him from people’s derision; he chose to follow the will of God. Now, years later, we talk about him, awed by his submission to the will of God. Chances are if he had acted in fear-fear of being rejected by society-he would have disobeyed God and by so doing, he would have earned God’s wrath, instead of blessings.

Prayer to St. Joseph

We have so much to learn from that. Whenever we find ourselves at a crossroads, where we’re not sure whether to follow God’s will and be shunned by society or do good in people’s eyes but displease God in the process, we should take comfort in Joseph’s story. Following the will of God will always earn us blessings.

Knowing how much pressure people find themselves subjected to whenever they have to make some very conflicting choices, it’s not hard to understand why, or even how people end up making choices that make them fall from God’s grace. We shouldn’t get discouraged though. These problems we face are not unique to us. They happened before and as it is, Joseph’s story should encourage us all.

The question to ask is not, “What will people think about me?” but rather, “What will God think about me?”

It’s better to be at war with all of society and be at peace with God, than be loved by all of humanity but lose favour in the eyes of God.

And because tomorrow is Christmas, I wish you all the merriest of Christmases. May the new Christ child be born in our hearts.

Christmas

 

Lord, help me know your ways

Because the Lord is righteous and good, He teaches sinners the path they should follow.

He leads the humble in the right way and teaches them His will.

With faithfulness and love He leads all who keep His covenant and obey His commandments. (Psalms 25: 8-10)

Today is the first Sunday of Advent (the period preceding Christmas). I just can’t believe how the time has flown. This would be that part where I just stare into space and ask, “Where did all the time go?”

Christmas is practically right around the corner. That still sounds hard to believe. People have actually started putting up Christmas decorations because in less than a month we’ll be celebrating the birth of Christ. Would you believe that?

Many people around the world –Christians and non-Christians alike- are waiting excitedly for that festive season. To the former it is because the birth of Christ signifies so much; new beginnings and all, whereas to the latter it’s about the festivities; fun trips, parties, gifts…merrymaking and all.

In my opinion, Christmas also shows that the year is coming to end. We’re counting days now, before we cross over to Year 2016. That means this is that time of the year when we start evaluating whether we achieved the resolutions we set when the New Year was starting.

The verse above (in italics) was our responsorial psalm in church today, and it had me thinking about a few things.

Primarily, it’s a prayer, asking for God’s guidance. That reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend a few weeks ago. We were talking about relationships and he asked me how one knows when they’ve found ‘the one’.

As I’m not a love guru, I answered him based on my Christian belief and a few experiences. For starters, I am of the opinion that relationships don’t last nowadays. And if I was to put in my two cents worth on the matter, I would say it’s because majority of us lost track of what people should be looking for in relationships. If for instance, two people get together for financial reasons, it goes without saying that if God-forbid the money runs out, even the relationship goes, ‘bye-bye’.

There’s this one time my sisters and I paid our paternal grams a visit and she was saying, “Nowadays young people are spending too much money on weddings, even taking loans to fund those extravagant events, yet very few of them are lasting for more than five years”.

So what’s the problem really?

I feel many people have turned away from God. Sex is not sacred anymore, in any case it’s been reduced into a currency that the better of us give in exchange for goods and services; people worship money, such that the penurious are treated like pariahs, who don’t have a place in society; and because of this importance we’ve attached to money, people are doing just about anything to get it. We’re practically ignoring all that’s right because as most ask, “How far will being good get you?”

In my humble opinion, we should go back to God. Seek His guidance in all that we do, and He will never fail us. Regarding the question my friend asked me about knowing when you’ve found the right partner, I told him to pray. That sounds cliché I know, but it’s something I learned from experience.

See there’s this guy I was so into; I even told my mom about him because I was almost sure he was the one I would be spending forever with. He proposed informally and that put me in that place where I knew the decision I would make would be one of the most important ones I’d be making in my life. So I embarked on praying, asking God to help me make the right choice.

It’s been a few years since then and given that I’m still single, it obviously means I said no. In the course of the brief relationship we had, I found out a few things, which if I had found out later, we would have divorced. Point is, praying feels a bit overrated, especially for those who haven’t established that personal connection with God, but it actually works.

However, there’s one thing I believe; for as long as the sun shines and the earth rotates in its axis, we’ll always need God; whether we realize it or not. And like my friend asked me, “How do you know you’re making the right choice?”

My answer was, “God will grant you that discernment, to know what is right or wrong. The conviction will be so strong and everything around you will point towards the right thing/person. You will know it.”

Therefore, as we prepare our hearts to welcome the new-born Christ in our hearts, and as we assess the decisions we’ve been making since the year began, it’s imperative that we seek God’s guidance in all we do, and trust me; God never fails those who rely on Him.

“Teach me your ways, O Lord;

Make them known to me.

Teach me to live according to your truth,

for you are my God, who saves me.

I always trust in you. (Psalms 25: 4-5).