The other day a father of several children remarked:  “Christmas used to come as a     complete surprise to me every year.” 

              “What do you mean?”

              “I mean that I was never ready for Christmas financially.  I guess I knew it was coming, but I never saved anything up so that it didn’t wipe me out financially.” 

              “It’s not a surprise anymore.”

             “Several years ago, I learned to set aside enough each month so that when Christmas came I was ready.”

             What that father was saying is that there is a difference between having an experience and learning from an  experience. 

              Have you ever had a teacher who had twenty years of good, accrued experience?  Have you, on the other hand, had a teacher who had one year’s experience twenty times?  What a difference!

              Some of us have a fresh new experience with Christmas every year.  Others have one experience with Christmas many times.  Some never learn anything from Christmas; they never take the true meaning of Christmas with them into the rest of the year. 

             The Holy Scriptures speak to us of taking the true Christmas message with us as we live the everydayness of our lives.  They point to ways in which we ought to take Christmas with us.

             In his letter to the Colossians, St. Paul says to the first century Christians and to us: “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”  He is not setting one person over another.  Rather he is setting all under Christ in mutual self-giving. 

             This is part of the true spirit of Christmas; mutual self-giving.  “God so loved…that He gave…”  Christmas spreads the message out into the rest of the year when we adopt this Christ-like attitude of self-giving into our families, our workplace, our school, our community and our world.

             For each of us, Jesus calls for mutual respect.  The heart of respect is appropriate values:  when we recognize that each person is just as valuable as the other and when we treat each other out of the awareness that he or she is as valuable as I.  Then the true spirit of Christmas is translated out of a yearly observance into a daily celebration.  The good news is that God has given each of us intrinsic value which is not determined by our role or our position or our productivity.  Such value is the basis of our Christian life.

             So what will Christmas 2016 be for you this year?  Just another round of a somewhat meaningful festivity that soon ebbs into the bill paying and house cleaning which seems to be such a part of the holidays?  Or will Christmas 2016 furnish you with an opportunity this year to make some decisions about carrying it into 2017?  It’s really up to you!  Merry Christmas!!