Monday, November 03, 2008

Halloween is Over...
Last year a gal in our church gave a talk and I loved it! I still remember feeling excited about the ideas that she shared and so I found the article she pulled some of her thoughts from and wanted to share it with you. It was written by Glenn Beck - a radio and TV personality.
The holidays are upon us, my friends, how will we approach them? Just some food for thought... this article was published in Glenn Beck's magazine "Fusion", December 2007 issue.

Trinity of Holidays
- by Glenn Beck

Let's talk turkey (and eggnog and noisemakers, for that matter). We're in the midst of the holiday season (no, that's not a PC term; I'm talking about Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's) and I have just one question: Do you even remember what it's all about?

I'm guessing you don't, because we've buried the magic of those holidays under so much noise and irrelevance that we really don't enjoy this time of year -- and we certainly don't grow spiritually from the gifts that are right in front of us. Over time, we've mangled these holidays into unrecognizable displays of gluttony and greed.

Take Thanksgiving, for instance. In November 1789, President George Washington made Thanksgiving a national holiday when he declared that the nation needed "a day of public Thanksgiving and prayer." Somehow, this day in late November that was intended to be a timeout to give thanks to Almighty God has turned into a feast of food and football that has nothing to do with prayer (unless you count praying for your football team to cover the spread, which I obviously don't).

Christmas is intended to celebrate the birth of Christ, but political-correctness and consumerism have mangled it so far beyond recognition that I'm actually surprised when I see a reference to baby Jesus anymore.

January 1st offers the promise of a new start and a new calendar year, but it's become an excuse to party and drink so much that you wake up not even knowing what day it is.

It's no wonder that, after the turkey comas and pine cone needles have disappeared, the only thing left over from the holidays is a bigger waistline and more credit card debt.

I want us to take back the real meaning of these holidays. I don't think it's an accident that they are clustered together; I see it as divine design. Every year they offer us a clear series of steps we can take to become better people.

Step One is gratitude. Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to humble ourselves and give thanks for the many blessings we have. Prayers help us find peace and acceptance with who we are.

Step Two is redemption. If you have seen my Christmas show, you know that I believe Christmas is more about the death of the man than the birth of the child. We celebrate the birth of the baby on December 25th, but the reason for His existence was so His death would cleanse our sins. His journey, from manger to cross, gives us a second chance.

Step Three is hope. The New Year gives us a clean slate, made possible because we've already humbled ourselves, given thanks, and found redemption. You can't succeed in your resolutions if you are still damaged from the past or if they are just a list on a piece of paper.

None of these holidays started out as anything extravagant. Thanksgiving was just a proclamation, Christmas began in a stable, and the New Year has always just been a day on the calendar. But their magic is in what they represent and in the opportunities they give us. They are very simple in their rewards: your grandmother's tablecloth; your child discovering the Christmas tree; the promise of a new year.

The true gifts of the season aren't in a lighting display or a gourmet meal; they are in your heart, and gathered around your table. You just have to take the time to look for them.

Traditions and glittery stuff are fine -- but our souls need attention, too. There is such a thing as a second chance and I hope, if you need one, you will find it this season in all the blessings around you.

Happy holidays from the Glenn Beck Program

Take it for what it's worth. But, I'm hoping to apply some of the things he mentions in my life. I think that too often we get caught up in the material aspect of these holidays - I know I do. I'm so busy in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day that I forget to be thankful for the family I'm surrounded by. I'm so eager for my children to open their "perfect gifts" on Christmas morning that I neglect to remember the only TRUE "perfect gift" ever given. I'm so exhausted on New Years that I don't make resolutions to change. It's so much easier to just stay the same.

This year will be different. I'm going to keep the materialism in my holidays to a minimum. I wish I could say that I would eliminate them entirely, but that would be a lie. I like to cook for my family on Thanksgiving, but this year I won't go so crazy with our menu. I want my kids to get a few things for Christmas, but they don't need so many things - because that's exactly what they are - THINGS. And I'm going to make some changes. I can see how much I need that in my life.

Sorry this is so long! I'm not trying to be preachy... just using my blog as a sounding board for a few thoughts that I thought might be useful to someone else. What do you do to keep the holidays in focus in your home? Do you have traditions to help you maintain the spirit of the holiday rather than the things of the holiday?


Holly said...

Beautifully said! Thanksgiving is just going to be our little family this year and I want to focus our children on gratitude for their blessings, not the apple pie!

My husband and I have been talking about the holidays and wanting to downsize the materialism part of Christmas. Part of it is financial, yes, but also that our kids seem to have so much and they don't need more "stuff". What we're going to do yet, I don't know.

Kristina P. said...

You know, I've never watched or listened to Glenn Beck, but when I ever I hear something of his in the bloggy world, I tend to like it.

sariqd said...

If you don't mind... I think I'll copy this on my blog and my thoughts along with it. Otherwise, this comment will be the longest one ever!

Love you - thanks for this...

Anonymous said...

He is right there is "order" to these holidays to bring us into a new year...... We just need to take advantage of them so we come away renewed, not stressed and tired!

flip flop mama said...

I love Glenn Beck. I never thought about the order of the holidays like that. Thanks for this post. It's great to have a new perspective on things.

Magirk said...

Thanks for this. It's really lovely, your thoughts and his...

I've already tried to cut back this year. I think this year is going to be very different for us, for many reasons.

Thanks again for sharing these thoughts. ;-)

Yvonne said...

That is just beautiful, melissa. So much to think about. I'm so glad you posted it.

I'm going to do a better job this year, too.

diana said...

what a great article and it has helped me. it's reminded me of the true meaning of these holidays and has convicted me that i, too, need to keep a focus on what is truly important. thank you.

maybe we can all help each other in some tangible way here in bloggyland. we should put some thought into this.

Nancy Face said...

This was wonderful...much to think about.

Rachelle said...

Thanks for reminding me of my own lesson. I had forgotten, but I'm glad you remembered to remind me. This is the start of an annual journey of gratitude, redemption, and renewal. I have to keep this in mind when I feel like I am in the rush of things. Good.


I've touched Glenn Beck.....TWICE!

He didn't even seem creeped out by it at all.

Jean Knee said...

it's true, I see the Christmas rush already starting.

wynne said...

On Christmas Eve, my husband's family has a tradition of reading the Christmas story out of Luke 2. When they were little, they used to act it out...we may try that this year, though Jake may have to play more than one part.

We also have a white stocking hung up with the other stockings...if you've heard of this before, you'll know what it's for, but if not, I'll email you. (Long explanation, but it ties into New Year's as well.)

I also have an advent calendar that I made--an easy one! made out of paper and some's a long explanation, too. Guess I can email you. But day 25 is the day we put baby Jesus in the manger of the Nativity scene before we open any presents or anything...

This year I'm going to try something a little different to change focus from getting to giving. I'm going to make Jake earn some money and take him to the dollar store where he can pick out some presents for his grandparents and his dad. (This is what I did when I was a kid. We all took a little money out of our accounts and tried to see what lousy presents we could scrounge up to give to relatives. It was fun. One year I got my grandparents a bunch of these cute little Christmas glasses. I thought they were to put candles in or something. Grandpa laughed and laughed when he unwrapped them and asked if I thought he was a drunk. Hey--I didn't know what shot glasses were.)

Okay, now I'm totally taking over the comments.

Oh well. May as well keep going, right?

I still need to find a good tradition for Thanksgiving. BUT we've been focusing on gratitude for the past little while--trying to explain it and demonstrate it to the kidlet, and helping him to come up with things he's grateful for--every day, something new--and including that in our prayers. (Hope some of it sinks in.)

Aaaaannnd...I think that's it. So there.

JustRandi said...

Ahh, that's part of why Glenn Beck is my celebrity BFF. I love that he's willing to just say it right out, even if it's not pc.

Alysa said...

This is a great reminder. Thanks for sharing. It's been fun to be on your blog. I'll have to browse more often.

The Morris Fam said...

i love it. i needed the reminder too. i just started listening to GB.
i like!