Like a general going into battle, we are laser focused as we march toward the holiday season. We have decorating goals that would make Joanna Gaines dizzy, and the range of holiday dishes we have waiting in our Pinterest would make Betty Crocker curl up in defeat and eat straight from the jar.
Reconsidering my over-zealous ideas, I shake my head when I concede that my holiday dishes will probably be prepared and purchased from some of our local restaurant favorites that thankfully do the hard work to make holiday dinners easier. My Christmas decorations will consist of a single sub-par tree decorated by my kids and a dancing Santa. It is easy to get swept up in the holiday “hoopla” of a western Christmas.
From the days when kids were excited to wake up to a simple stocking stuffed with oranges, candy canes and a Slinky, how did we get here? These days there is pressure to provide the postcard-perfect-looking, cinnamon-stick-smelling, overindulgent and over-stuffed Christmas experiences that have somehow cheapened this budget breaking holiday.
One of my favorite parts of the Christmas season is Advent. My friend Lorie Son started this tradition for my family. When my kids were little, she and her family handmade us an Advent countdown calendar with small gifts to unwrap each day that correlated with scripture. It was extremely meaningful then, and each year since, the tradition has helped my family keep the season centered on the true meaning of Christmas. As a Christian, I believe Jesus is not only the real reason for the season, but his birth, life, death and resurrection are the only avenue for the world’s introduction to the hope, faith, joy and peace traditionally represented by the four candles of the Advent tradition. The birth of our beautiful Savior, now THAT really is an event worthy of a “hoopla,” and thankfully, Lorie’s family recognized that.
After the last couple of years that have looked unlike anything else we have seen in my lifetime, the idea of getting back to the simple things sounds exactly like what we all need a little more of. It is the perfect time to focus a little more on family, friends, and community. That’s the example James Bramlett has been setting in our city for years. Growing up here, he developed a love for Texarkana and our citizens and has been giving back through leadership and service every time he has had the opportunity. From his time as mayor, to serving beans and cornbread for a good cause, his actions show that he shares the values of advent with the people of Texarkana year after year. As the holiday season is kicking into high gear, take some time to read about his invaluable contributions in this month’s issue of Texarkana Magazine, and remind yourself to slow down and take notice of your family, friends and neighbors. They are the reason Jesus came and His coming changed everything. Let’s celebrate it together.