Christmas traditions have changed over the years in our family. We used to go to the Blue Mountains and cut down a tree to bring home and decorate inside the house.
Then, for many years, we had a fake tree.
For the last few years, since our children are grown and on their own, we’ve decided to put the Christmas tree outside.
Doug anchors a 10 foot tree outside and strings colorful lights around it.
We can see it through the house window. It’s especially beautiful with a whiff of snow muting the colorful lights.
Our traditions, or habits, may have changed, but the joy of celebrating Christ remains.
Here are a few verses from the poem, Christmas Morn, written by Mary Baker Eddy:
“Dear Christ, forever here and near,
No cradle song,
No natal hour and mother’s tear.
To thee belong.
Thou God idea, Life encrowned,
The Bethlehem babe,
Beloved, replete, by flesh embound was but thy shade,
Thou gentle beam of living Love,
And, deathless Life!
so far above
All thee belong”
This is a story I heard:
A tradition within a remote tribe was noticed by a visitor. Whenever someone in the tribe exhibited bad behavior, everyone stopped and formed a circle, sitting the misbehaving individual in the center.
A person in the circle started saying good things about the lone individual, in the center of attention. Every person in the circle then was given a turn to say something nice.
The tribal members would recall good memories, happy times, or times when that focal person did something wonderful. Character strengths were voiced.
The conversation would continue as long as deemed necessary.
I saw a version of this story occur here locally the other day.
I was reporting on a governmental meeting that involved 19 Town Supervisors. Quite often, these meetings can be contentious, even getting so far off the political subject, I want to scream.
But, this meeting was a year end meeting and there was a changing of the guard. The Chair determinedly stood at the podium to thank each Supervisor leaving office. Each Supervisor did in turn, say something kind about the board and community.
Often the verbal comments were strained but after they droned on and on, I thought, “This reinforcement of good news is an effort to bring healing.”
One particular outgoing Supervisor had a reputation of opposition for the sake of opposing. When the Chair called him to the podium, he got up and said, with a touch of humor, “You don’t have to say anything nice about me.”
The Chair responded, “I’m going to try.” And, he did.
Human beings are not perfect. But, we do have the capability to fight for what we know is right with an open mind to see how others see. We also can move past conflict that arises.
Our neighbors in the Village have an Advent display in their living room. The display radiated a serenity that caught my attention. I’ve never participated in Advent before so was intrigued.
According to About.com, Mary Fairchild, Christianity Editor says, “Celebrating Advent involves spending time in spiritual preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas. In Western Christianity, the season of Advent begins on the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas Day, or the Sunday which falls closest to November 30, and lasts through Christmas Eve, or December 24.”
A variety of Advent customs have developed over the centuries, therefore my overview here is not all-inclusive. Even if my church doesn’t formally observe Advent, my immediate family can celebrate Advent as a way to keep Christ at the center of our Christmas celebrations.
Our neighbors placed a white candle in the middle of a natural evergreen tree bough. Surrounding the white candle were four candles. Each of the four candles represented either, hope, peace, love, or joy. The hope, peace, and joy candles were purple while the love candle was pink.
Each of the four Sundays before Christmas, one of the outside candles is lit. Then on Christmas Day, the middle candle will be lit. Bible verses are read specific to each topic.
Every now and then I read through the book Silence of the Heart, Dialogues with Robert Adams, who explains that this physical experience and the human egos are in a state of trance. Adams stresses the need to wake up to divine consciousness. I came across a particularly interesting paragraph, reading:
“Would hypnosis be useful as a means to breaking the hypnosis [trance]?
(Adams answers:) “No. Because hypnosis simply contacts the subconscious. It reinforces your ego. You’re already hypnotized. So you don’t want to double your hypnosis. Because then you have to get rid of the hypnotic trance as well as the waking trance.”
This idea is comparable to ideas from 19th century spiritual leader, Mary Baker Eddy.
We read in 21st Century Science and Health:
“Observations of the workings of hypnosis, the collective unconscious, or crowd thinking, offer convincing evidence that they are not remedial agents. I am convinced that the effects of outside mortal mental influences on those who practice it, and on the people who do not resist it, lead to moral and physical death.
“If hypnotism seems to heal disease—or mental collective noise seems to alleviate loneliness—this appearance is deceptive, since error cannot remove the effects of error. Discomfort under error is preferable to comfort. In every instance, the effect of suggestion is just the effect of illusion. Any seeming benefit derived from mental manipulation is proportional to one’s faith in magic.
“The process, either unconsciously or consciously, of thought manipulation has no scientific foundation, for God is uninfluenced and always conscious—always consciously governing all that is real, harmonious, and eternal. God expresses divine consciousness in us.”