The 11th Day of Christmas

By From the Heart | Community Contributors

Jan 05
11 Tips to Keep the Spirit of Christmas Alive
in the New Year

#1. Smile. Inspired by a quote from St. Mother Teresa (“Peace begins with a smile”) as well as one of our Christmas poster contest entries, the gift of a smile is a very simple thing a person can do to keep Christmas alive in the new year. We hustle and bustle around all year long and how often do we remember to sport a healthy grin to those around us? Do you ever notice how you feel when a stranger holds the door for you and offers a friendly face? A smile may be a simple offering but it can make a big difference to the person who receives it! “A cheerful glance brings joy to the heart; good news invigorates the bones” (Proverbs 15:30). —Kristi Anderson, The Visitor

#2. Spend time with family and friends. The holidays give us opportunities to gather with family and friends – to slow down and take time to reconnect with our loved ones. Though, sometimes it seems like there are so many people we do not necessarily get time to really spend time together. This time of year especially, I remind myself that Christmas, and the celebration there of, invites us to spend time – real time – with others. Go on a family movie date (we just saw “Sing” in theaters, which was a great family flick, by the way). Invite a friend or family over for dinner. Take time with a few friends or one family. Share a meal. Visit. Play. Big family gatherings are great, but there is real goodness in the smaller gatherings, too! Even meet up with a friend for a coffee (or hot cocoa for you non-coffee drinkers)… the goal is to find and share joy in spending time with people – at Christmastime and throughout the whole year. —Jennifer Adams, Christ Our Light Parish in Princeton/Zimmerman

#3. Schedule time for service. One of the things my cousin is doing is scheduling going to Kids Against Hunger each month. Sometimes it’s easier to work service into one’s schedule when you actually schedule it and it’s listed on the calendar. —Brenda Kresky, diocesan consultant for adult faith formation

#4. Step up our prayer lives. This can mean adding a rosary, chaplet or novena to your prayer routine. It can also include reading about the saints, using a Saint of the Day book, or going for a daily relaxing walk while praying the rosary. Reading aloud to your family while they sip on hot cocoa (or ice tea in the summer!) is also a fun way to add in extra prayer time. Make a ‘Thinking of You’ card and insert a prayer card in it and send it to a person you think may be having a tough time. Instead of making a New Year’s resolution to improve oneself (losing weight, exercise, etc.), consider a promise to try harder to be ‘in tune’ with others’ wants and needs and help them. —Kathy Wagner, St. Joseph Parish, Bertha

#5. Keep all your Christmas cards and letters you receive. Then after the new year (or part way through the year, when you need a little spiritual boost), put them away one at a time. On the day you put each one away (be that recycling it, scrapbooking it, or whatever you do with your greetings from friends and family), pray in a special way for the person or family who sent it to you. Dedicate that day to them and lifting them up in prayer!  It’s a great way to re-live the feeling of Christmas as you re-read their Christmas messages. And it’s a great way to remind your mind, heart and faith life of the communion we all share as you hold your loved ones and acquaintances in prayer throughout your day.  As an extra bonus, send them a little message letting them know you’re praying for them especially that day; you never know how they may be needing to hear of your prayers and support that day.  It just may help both you AND them feel the Christmas spirit – of love, generosity, faith and accompaniment – alive again! (And maybe even encourage them to start this tradition with their Christmas cards – that’s how I got started). -Kateri Mancini, mission education coordinator, St. Cloud Mission Office

#6. Contemplate, praise, rejoice, discern. God became human in the Incarnation. Contemplating this mystery, Saint Francis of Assisi saw all of creation as revelatory of God. Let us join with Saint Francis: “In art he praises the Artist….he rejoices in all the works of the Lord’s hands, and through their delightful display he gazes on their life-giving reason and cause. In beautiful things he discerns Beauty Itself” (2 Celano 124). -Franciscan Sister Michelle L’Allier, Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls

#7. Connect a part of the Christmas story in something you do everyday.  I think about the Magi, bringing gifts to the newborn baby, and ask myself how I can be a gift to others in ways I have not been before. Each encounter in the new year is a new opportunity to show love and care, to people we know and new people we meet. -David Fremo, director of campus ministry, St. John’s Preparatory School

#8. Be present. In the Advent season, we learn that Jesus shall be called “Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us,” “Dios con nosotros.” Here and now, God makes a place among us — quite literally — next to us, beside us, on top of us, underneath us, holding our hand. Like new parents ever-conscious of an infant in their home; the child’s crying, sleeping, feeding, laughing, waking, presence at all times, so God is born to us in baby Jesus. How quickly we can forget God’s living in our midst. By increasing our awareness of Christ’s continued presence among us, we incarnate the spirit of joy, charity, peacefulness, and love with us at all times. -Margaret Nuzzolese Conway, associate director of development and alumni relations, St. John’s School of Theology, Collegeville

#9. Don’t let the garbage trucks determine the length or intensity of your celebration of Christmas. CHRISTMAS is a season; it goes on and on, at least until February 2, on one level. So don’t let the garbage trucks determine the length or intensity of your celebration of Christmas! Don’t give them your untrimmed tree too soon! The longer that jeweled tree can remind you of Jesus’ birth, death on another tree, Resurrection and Ascension, i.e. the entire mystery of the season, the better! On a second level, the Nativity, imaged in the crib scene, invites us to search for God in the least likely places: among the poor, the misfits, foreigners and nonbelievers. And above all, in our humanity! So why would we let the dump trucks or the storage room rob us of time to simply sit and ponder? Besides, February 2, the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, will be here before we want it! –Benedictine Sister Renee Domeier, St. Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph

#10. Actively think about Christmas. Let us think about the joy that the holiday brings through the smiles, the goodwill, the feelings towards others. St. Benedict urged his monks to keep death before thine eyes daily. I don’t believe he did this to scare or remind us of our own mortality but rather as a guidance for us to live our lives more fully. For what we focus on, we will become. Christmas allows us the opportunity to focus on the pleasantries of the season. We aren’t thinking about having to go back to work, or how we can’t wait for our schedules to return to normal. We are thinking about how we can be the light and spread the good news of the season. We focus on the good and the joy because our thoughts of Christmas create our emotions and feelings. So if we want to feel the joy we have to consciously think about the joy. If we want to feel the warmth of being surrounded by loved ones, we have to actively think about what our loved ones mean to us. I believe Christmas affords us permission to disconnect us from the hustle and bustle of “every day living,” but it’s really how we change our thinking. So for us to continue in the Christmas spirit, all we have to do is to change our thinking. Our thoughts will always determine our feelings and emotions! Michael Stalboerger, Birthline board member and member of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, Richmond

#11. Be artisans of peace. “All of us want peace. Many people build it day by day through small gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere in their efforts to be peacemakers. In 2017, may we dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to building nonviolent communities that care for our common home. ‘Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer. Everyone can be an artisan of peace.'” -Pope Francis, 2017 World Day of Peace message, From the Vatican, 8 December 2016

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