It seems to me with each passing year, as the holidays approach, more and more people are in a rush to start preparing, decorating and even celebrating.
I’m not sure if this is because they want to get things done early so they have time to sit back and actually enjoy the season or if it’s because we keep ourselves so busy it’s hard to leave time for the holidays as they are meant to be celebrated in their due time.
One thing I have craved in my family for the past few years is the ability to slow down and simplify special times; enjoy them for what they are truly meant to be — namely, faith- filled family gatherings rich in love and spirit.
I can definitely say this is not an easy task to accomplish in a world that values multitasking and living up to unachievable standards.
A special new tradition I started with my family that allows us to start being mindful of the holidays, in particular Christmas, in October is through Cross Catholic Outreach. Through Cross Catholic, parishes and individuals fill shoebox-sized gift boxes that children in impoverished countries will receive for Christmas.
My two sons love filling the little boxes with as much as they possibly can stuff into them, and I love seeing them consider what items would be truly useful for a child who has nothing. It is an important learning experience for American children to realize that a child in a poor country would be happy to receive a $1 toothbrush, whereas when asked what they want for Christmas, my children very often say they don’t know ... because, truthfully, they already have all they want and need.
To me, this is a perfect way to take the building excitement of the Christmas season and put it in check. Think of the less fortunate first.
At this point in December, it is already too late to participate in the Boxes of Joy program for 2022. Next year, though, if you want to start preparing for Christmas a little early, instead of going out to shop or decorate for yourself on Nov. 1, I encourage you to find a parish that is participating in Cross Catholic’s Boxes of Joy program. It is a wonderful, selfless way to start sharing and celebrating the Christmas spirit early and a spectacular way to involve children in Catholic outreach.
If you don’t have a parish near you that is participating, go to www.crosscatholic.org and learn how to participate individually or become the leader in your parish. Want to stay local? The opportunity to reach out to the poor in your own town or vicinity is always available at our two local soup kitchens, St. Vincent de Paul Place in Norwich and St. Vincent De Paul Soup Kitchen in Middletown. Both ministries welcome help all year long, as well as donations of food, new clothing items, and children’s gifts for Christmas.
If you are stuck rushing to fulfill all your Christmas obligations and it feels stressful and unenjoyable, maybe it’s time to switch up some priorities and look for new meaning in this beautiful season.
By Marianne Nicholas