thoughts on christmas

I don’t know how I feel about Christmas. For the first time in my life, I suppose since I can remember, I am not all too excited. Some people might say that it’s because everything has become so commercialized. Others say that it’s because I’m getting old, thus becoming more cynical. (Old people, is that true?)

I’m not sure. But what I’ve always enjoyed about Christmas are the things I suppose I’ve always had: wonderful friends and family, much laughter and love. For me, this is a cheerful and joyous time. I get to see my loved ones and celebrate with tons of good games, food, and drink. I am blessed beyond a doubt.

This is not the case for everyone. This season can be especially hard for some, as it might serve as a painful reminder of what we do not have, or what we once had, now gone. Husbands and wives departed, kids you haven’t heard from in years. The loneliness is amplified, and broken pieces of ourselves are recycled. It can be a sort of bone-chilling emptiness.

But then one of my mentors told me something profound. He said that if we look hard enough to see beyond ourselves, perhaps we can begin to rediscover what this holiday is about–giving. If we can give, not just well-intended presents, but of our time and energy and hearts to meet the needs of those around us, then perhaps we would recapture the true spirit of Christmas. We would be modeling after the very Christ, who was sent to heal those who are hurting, mend the torn pieces, and bring life to things once dead.

I thought this was divine. Because if we all lifted our spoons to feed not ourselves but one another, then those with less would have more, and none of us would go hungry. And you don’t have to look far to see that the world is starving for our support, love, and attention.

What if God has chosen us to be a part of the remedy? What if we can bring Christmas to strangers and friends around us? What if we actually look to be Christ to those who do not know him?

For those of us who have been given much, this might seem like a tall order. The problems are plenty and overwhelming, and I don’t know where to begin sometimes. But I think upon Christ, about how God’s son exchanged all his heavenly riches to become human and understand our pain, and I guess that’s where I begin.

So, that’s my encouragement to you this year, by the way of my mentor. Pray to have eyes that are opened to the needs of those around you. Should you look hard enough, I’m sure you’ll find a way to seek and fulfill them.

Let us begin.

no zipper

The winter can be frighteningly cold. After an unfortunate experience, I was inspired to write this haiku:

Sleep gives rest for body
Weak bladder wakes me from dream
No zipper, crotch cold.

I tried to capture the agony and tragedy of cold wind blowing into your lower body parts while making the trek to the restroom in the middle of the night. Can you feel it?

Stay warm, folks.

Christmas Special 2010

Earlier tonight we celebrated Christmas at my parents’ house. It is always a fun time of gathering families together to stuff our faces and play some exciting games. Here are some pictures to help recap our holiday affair:

Mity, our main chef for the evening.

This is my brother (pretty much) cooking yet another fabulous holiday meal. He has raised the bar yet again, this time including an awesome clam dish made with white wine.

Close-up of the meal.

My sister also came back from New York with a few tricks up her sleeve. She made a fantastic goat cheese and mushroom tart, along with a mix of roasted veggies.

Of course, the night wouldn’t be complete without engaging our competitive juices in a couple of board games. The first game featured a sibling rivalry game, in which three pairs (brother-sister) went at each other to determine who was greatest. It was interesting to see how each pair communicated (or in some cases, didn’t). Not to toot our horn or anything, but the Yans were victorious (probably more a credit to my sister than anything).

Nothing like a shady game of Settlers!

The second game was a house favorite, Settlers of Catan, with a bunch of friends from Rowland. It was the craziest game I’ve played in awhile since we tried stopping two players from winning by all means possible.

Ready to rock in style for 2011.

Here I am showing off the two coolest gifts I received this Christmas. My very first Kobe Bryant jersey and a specially-designed one-of-a-kind sweater from New York. Two special gifts from two very special people in my life. You know who you are–thank you!

Indeed, I am thankful for all the blessings in my life. But it is easy to lose sight of what I’ve been given and forget the one from whom all blessings come. During this season, I’ve been reminded about how Jesus is the reason for all of this, and that the reason for Jesus is love. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Let us not forget to thank and treasure the greatest gift of all–Jesus Christ who is Lord and Savior.