Most of us get asked this question several times in December. What people of good will mean by asking is: Have you bought all the gifts you arer giving, have you sent all the cards, have you purchased all the food, eggnog, wine, etc to entertain family and friends?
I must admit I don’t like this question, or maybe I’m just tired of it. Perhaps that’s because I don’t do much different at Christmas time. Yes, I send cards, and I love to receive them. I hang a wreath on the door, and bring out a small ceramic Christmas tree my mother made forty years ago. I stopped giving gifts because it just seems unnecessary and too commercial.
Being without children, I don’t have that opportunity to share gifts with them, so I make donations to charities. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not Ebenezer Scrooge hating Christmas, but I don’t find many people talking about what the feast really means.
Every year at this time, especially when someone innocently asks me if I’m ready for Christmas, I remember the homily preached at midnight mass by Archbishop Hayes of Halifax at St.Mary’s Cathedral in 1988. He started his sermon by asking the above infamous question, stating as I did; “most of you have probably been asked: are you ready for Christmas?”
Then he said: “I won’t be ready for Christmas until I can sit down at table on Christmas Day with a person, that I don’t particularly like or get along with well.” He was very honest admitting that in this life, we cross paths eventually with someone that bugs us the wrong way. It might be a colleague, family member, acquaintance, or even a friend who says or does things that can grate on the nerves.
Ever since that Christmas Eve I have reflected on whether I can honestly say I’m ready for Christmas. During Advent I ask for the grace to be patient, kind, and loving, to a couple of folks I end up having Christmas turkey with, because they are part of extended family.
I hope that’s what the good archbishop meant when he talked about getting ready for Christmas. We may not like the person, but as disciples we are called by that infant born this sacred night, to love them.