A Writer's View: Remembering to keep Christ in Christmas

Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy.

Skies were gray, some rain was falling from the sky and the wind was both sharp and cold when I headed out for the local Dollar General. Once, this would have been a routine trip but this year, most of the time, I have groceries and other items delivered or I pick them up. It’s not only simple but safer to me as COVID-19 continues to spread. I don’t shop in person as often but on that day last week, I grabbed my list and donned a mask.

The rain had increased while I was in the store but when I climbed behind the wheel and turned the key, nothing happened. My first thought was it had to be a mistake, my second, after a couple more tries, was that I probably needed a new battery.

After calling upon my brother for some roadside service (i.e. a jump) I headed to an auto parts store where the battery tested bad and I purchased a new one, reeling a bit from sticker shock because, like almost everything else, prices have risen. With a new battery installed, I continued on my rounds.

I could have cussed or been angry when my car wouldn’t start. It could have ruined my day and my mood but it didn’t. I chose instead to be glad that I had someone to help; that I had the funds to buy a new battery and that the fix was simple.

I was thankful, a choice I made. The battery could have left me in far worse spots than the parking lot of a local store and the fix could have been much greater in both scope and cost.

It’s December and in my faith, it’s Advent, a season of anticipating the birth of Christ and the triumph of light over dark. The holiday season is glorious and joyful but it’s also a time of reflection, of preparation.

Sometimes in our march forward, we forget to reflect or to prepare. In the bright and colorful swirl of the season, sometime it’s all too easy to forget that it’s not about the Christmas trees or the parades or the events. In our pursuit to select gifts for our near and dear, we sometimes lose sight of why we give. We prepare for the secular holiday and not the holy.

I have begun a new chapter in my life’s story. It’s an adjustment and a transition but I am moving ahead, confident that this is the right thing for me at this time. I have been blessed with more compliments and well wishes that I can count from my friends and neighbors and our community.

In past years, working in media, first radio, then newspaper, the weeks before Christmas were often hectic and it often seemed challenging to carve out time to decorate the tree, bake the cookies, wrap the gifts, and keep family traditions.

This year will be different because I have the time to make those things a priority but they will come behind my spiritual pursuits and my focus on the season.

A few years ago, my church provided signs that read “Keep Christ in Christmas”. On the same day that my battery died, I saw my neighbor has her sign out and I resolved to put mine out as well. The tree is up but not yet decorated and the Christmas cards wait to be written.

For now, though, during Advent, no matter what a day may bring, it’s a time to remember why we celebrate and to do as that sign says – to keep Christ in Christmas.

-Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy is a former editor and reporter for The Neosho Daily News and The Aurora Advertiser. She is a freelance writer and an author, who will continue to write a column “A Writer’s View”.