This can have many meanings for the holidays. Simpler schedule, simpler gifts, simpler times. It is so easy to get caught up in the complexities of the season. Go here, go there. Do this, do that. Buy this, get that. Remember that Christmas began with the a quiet and simple birth of a child in a manger. No elaborate spectacles, no budget busting shopping sprees, just a family welcoming the new-born baby. The simple joys of the holidays are often the most precious. Think of your favorite holiday memory. I bet it’s a special moment or kindness shared with family or close friends. One of my best memories of recent Christmas years is the late evening Christmas Eves spent with my mother. She would be finishing some special baking treats and I might be wrapping some final stocking stuffers. The fire was burning warm and bright and we were definitely watching the broadcast of the Pope’s midnight mass. I see these shared times as truly simple gifts.
That brings to mind the traditional Shaker hymn of the same name. The melody and lyrics of this tune have become a cherished part of the American Folk Song catalog. The lyrics speak to exactly what we mean about simple being better. The first line says “‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free”. So very true. Read these two later verses and you can’t help but think a little differently about how Christmas might be:‘Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return, ‘Tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn, And when we expect of others what we try to live each day, Then we’ll all live together and we’ll all learn to say. ‘Tis the gift to have friends and a true friend to be, ‘Tis the gift to think of others not to only think of “me”, And when we hear what others really think and really feel, Then we’ll all live together with a love that is real. (click on the gifts to hear some musical “gifts”)