Here I sit, in a Starbucks in Vancouver, listening to jazzy Christmas songs. I am fortunate to have a friend in the city that welcomes me any time I need a place to escape the north, collect my thoughts and write. Starbucks is packed with Christmas shoppers that need to take a break and refuel. As I happily tap on my laptop, the barista in front of me is dressed in a red festive Starbucks t-shirt with a saying on her back: “Let There Be Bright”. I don’t really know what it means, however I take it as a positive Christmassy message.
I love Christmas. This year, I have been reflecting on exactly why I love it so much. Of course, the obvious and most important—Jesus was born and because of Him and His life, we have hope and salvation for eternal life.
There are other reasons attached to the season that hold significance for me. Gary Chapman wrote a book called The Five Love Languages. He talks about how we all have one primary and one secondary love language. In his book he outlines five ways to express love: gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service and physical touch. These “love languages” translate into “I love you”. I have to admit, my “love language” is gift giving. It is also “quality time”.
Christmas means family time to me. Our traditions are not elaborate but they are ours and I cherish them. It is a time where my oldest son comes home from university and is reunited with his brother and sister. It is a time where our family shuts down for a few days and just enjoys being together. On Christmas Eve we dress up in our best clothes and make fondue, play some board games and eat boxes of chocolate. We sleep in on Christmas day. Attempting to buy perfect gifts for my family, I usually end up buying too many of them. We savour our gift opening and spread it out through the day. We stay in our pj’s, go for walks (in our pj’s) and work on puzzles. We eat boxed appetizers, brie cheese and jumbo shrimp rings for dinner so no one has to cook. It is low stress and it is lovely.
During the week we have more family time. There is no agenda except being together. We save our turkey dinner until New Year’s Eve, invite friends to join us, and have the kids invite their friends as well. We have a house full of all ages and enjoy food and games. The kids often play a “mission impossible or a “hide and seek survive” game outside. They usually have all-night board games or movies and I am happy they still want to be at home with us New Year’s Eve.
My love languages are fed….lots of gift giving and quality time!
But as I walk the streets of Vancouver, I see people that will have no gifts at Christmas. Most likely they will not be with family. Some of them will not even have shelter or enough food. As well, I have a few friends in the city that are single, Christmas is a difficult time for them and they can’t wait for the season to be over. I think of the Syrian refugees, the families of the Paris attacks' victims and so many other people in the world that will not have their love languages met this Christmas.
I will still treasure my time with my family but this year I will make more of a conscious effort to pray for those people that will struggle through the season. And I will count my blessings.