Keeping Christ in Christmas

The Carmel Community shares ideas for keeping Jesus at the center of the season.

Emma Roberts, Reporter

When most people think of Christmas, they think of shopping sales, extravagant decorations, gifts under the tree, and Santa Claus. Flashy lights and festive songs seem to take over, while perfecting wish lists becomes a top priority. Because these materialistic distractions have become linked with Christmas, its true meaning seems to have disappeared.

 However, the purpose of the Christmas season has much more value than the distractions that can overshadow it. It is a time to celebrate the birth and incarnation of Jesus Christ with friends and family. In a growing secular society, how can the true meaning of Christmas be kept alive?

Director of Mission Effectiveness Kambra French shares how prayer can help keep Jesus at the center of the season. “This Advent, make a point to spend a little time each night before bed and just be in silence with God,” French said. “Quiet all of the things in your mind and just focus on Him for a little bit. This could feel weird at first, but it will become more natural and I promise, over time, will bring you His peace.”

Religious studies teacher Jeffrey Ptacek emphasizes the importance of paying attention to the commercialization of the celebration. “I think we focus so much on the preparation that we forget to enjoy the moment, “ Ptacek said. Ptacek also shares how our whole Carmel community can celebrate together. “Our community can make the true meaning of Christmas more present by more carefully reflecting on how we treat and talk about others,” Ptacek said. “We can invite a friend to attend Mass or prayer service, or serve together at a charitable organization.We can reflect more deeply on those who struggle this time of year.”

Ptacek also suggested that students focus on what unites them. “Most importantly,” Ptacek said, “we can put aside what divides and angers us and focus on what binds us together as a community rooted in faith in Jesus Christ.” Carmel students have their own traditions and ideas for keeping the true meaning of Christmas in their hearts.

Senior Mary Margaret Galuska shares how she makes an effort to remember Jesus this season, from a student’s perspective. “During December, I spend a lot of time studying for finals and doing end-of-semester projects,” Galuska said. “Then, when we finally get out of school for the semester, it is so close to Christmas that I rush to get presents for my family and friends.” “In the midst of this, I sometimes don’t take enough time for silent prayer. My plan for this year is to build in time for silent prayer during my study breaks.”

Galuska also celebrates the meaning behind the holiday with her family. “My family puts out a stocking for Jesus,” Galuska said. “When we do a good deed, we write it down and slip it in the stocking as a present for Jesus.”

With all of these ideas, it is important to recognize that the materialistic things we use to celebrate aren’t all bad, as long as they are used to celebrate Christ.

“We are attracted to presents, parties and pretty lights,” French said. “Being attracted to those things isn’t bad or wrong, but it is important to realize that alone, they are just one dimensional. When we realize that they are actually meant to point to Him…they mean so much more.”

 “To get happy just for presents and parties is natural,” French said, “but the happiness that is possible from the true love of Christ is infinitely more wonderful.”