Sunday, Dec 07, 2003: “Keeping the Holy Days Holy: #1”

St. Mark’s Adult Education Meeting Summary

Session One: Keeping the Holy Days Holy

Led by Adrienne Ingram and Judith Doran

Sunday, December 7, 2003

Adrienne Ingram and Judith Doran will be leading a three-week series entitled Keeping the Holy Days Holy. The series is based upon the book “Unplug the Christmas Machine,” which focuses on the true meaning of Advent and Christmas and finding the simple joys of the season instead of the stressful times experienced by many of us.

First a handout, entitled “The Christmas Pledge” was given to all the participants to read and discuss:

Believing in the true spirit of Christmas, I commit myself to: * Remember those people who truly need my gifts * Express my love in more direct ways than gifts * Examine my holiday activities in the light of my deepest values * Be a peacemaker within my circle of family and friends * Rededicate myself to spiritual growth [(C) 1991 Unplug the Christmas Machine].

Next, a very comprehensive list was passed out to everyone that included many of the activities we are normally involved with during the Christmas season. The list included: Masterminding the gift list, Inviting friends to the party, Buying stocking stuffers, Cooking for the party, Making or buying stockings, Cleaning for the party, Making travel plans, Shopping for the party, Helping out at church, Cleaning up after the party, Helping out at school, Buying or cutting down a tree, Shopping for gifts, Decorating the tree, Making gifts, Helping with Christmas activities at work, Buying wrapping supplies, Wrapping gifts, Making & buying decorations for the house, Mailing gifts, Making family Advent preparations, Cleaning up after Christmas, Planning holiday menus, Writing thank-you notes, Getting kids to write thank-you notes, Putting away decorations, Disposing of the tree, Doing special grocery shopping, Doing holiday baking, Getting ready for relatives, Taking down outside decorations, Cooking and shopping for family reunions, Planning family reunions, Packing & preparing for holiday travel, Writing Christmas cards, Putting up inside decorations, Putting up outside decorations, Planning a holiday party for friends, Volunteering for charity, Other activities…

Everyone was asked to identify all of the items on the list, which they participate in during the Christmas season. Also, any additional activities could be listed under “other activities” as well. Other activities mentioned included shopping after Christmas, assembling toys, collecting food and toys for the needy, etc. Needless to say, the point was well made that most of us do not find the Christmas season particularly relaxing and with all of the activities we may be involved in, the time left to ponder the true meaning of Christmas may be minimal.

Judith then noted that in our society we often times misrepresent the birth of Jesus. He is often portrayed as a blue-eyed, blonde haired little boy with mother and father at his side. Per Jewish tradition, most husbands were not present during the birth of their children. It is thus very probable that Mary may have been attended to by a group of local women.

Finally, our last project was to think of a Christmas from the past that was especially enjoyable and to write down some memories from that Christmas. Many of the memorable Christmases seemed to be when our children were little or when we, ourselves were small. Sometimes they were remembered due to a specific happening such as a power outage or a bad snowstorm. Discussions about these topics and more will be continued next week.