Never-ending season

Many people bemoan the fact that Christmas has become commercialized. They see stores crammed with sparkling decorations, highly promoted merchandise and frenzied shoppers looking for gifts on ever-growing lists. Some might declare, in paraphrasing and misquoting a poet of by-gone days, "Christmas is too much with us."

But that isn't so. While material trappings of the season can be overdone, Christmas never can be too much with us.

Christmas is a never-ending season for those who follow the Savior and emulate His teachings. For Christians, every day is a day to remember His descent from Heavenly realms to dwell on Earth among mortals. To His followers, every day is a day to keep His commandments, to do His works, to serve others as He served, and to love one another, just as He taught His disciples.

With the Christmas season come reminders of the greatest Gift to all the world, the birth of the Son of God, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. At this time of year, many ponder that great Gift and its meaning. But every Christian ought to ponder it every day.

At this time of year, many draw nearer to family and friends. Would that they do so throughout the year! In December, we see kind-hearted people who make room at their tables for those who are alone, and even for strangers, and visit the home-bound or residents of nursing homes. Do not people need to be fed, visited and receive neighborly cheer in other months as well? At Christmas time, many find ways to stretch money far enough to give to charitable organizations or individuals in need. But are not the poor always among us?

The Christmas season — even if it is commercialized — serves as a great reminder of the fact that the Son of God came to Earth to dwell among mortals, serving as no one else could serve and paving the way for all to return to their heavenly home. As we turn our focus away from its secular aspects, we discover the real joy and beauty of Christmas. Also, we carry the joy of His good news with us throughout the year.

People who remember Christ's teachings tend to look at others through the broader and more forgiving lens of love and concern instead of the narrow microscope of judgment. As they encounter apparently homeless people, for example, their thoughts lean more toward wondering if those souls have warm beds to sleep in and how they might help than to suppose that the needy bring misfortune upon themselves.

Imagine what the world would be like if Christians everywhere behaved as if every day is Christmas: a day to remember Jesus and His Divine ministry and His ultimate gift of the Atonement, and a day to show love for Him by helping and being kind to others. Every day, all year long.

Days pass and, by the world's calendar, the Christmas season ends — decorations are removed, wrappings and ribbons are thrown away or carefully saved for future use, musical lyrics on radios no longer refer to refrains of angels singing, a silent night or a little town called Bethlehem. For too many people, thoughts of Christmas are put away as surely as ornaments and lights are stored in a closet, attic or basement.

Many people's thoughts turn to the end of an old year and the beginning of a new year. Reflecting on the past, some look toward the future. On mental tote boards, they tally mistakes, lost opportunities, bad decisions of the past year, and on the clean slates of a new year they make resolutions.

A hymn might serve as a guide for a list of resolutions. Individuals ought to seek to become more holy, strive to do His will, be patient in suffering, have sorrow for sin, have faith in the Savior, be aware of His care, be joyful in His service, and have more purpose in prayer.

Further resolutions include becoming more grateful, and trusting in the Lord, having more pride in His glory and hope in His word, being more tearful for His sorrows, feeling pain for His grief, being meek in trails and offering praise when He brings relief.

Still further resolutions to seek are purity and strength to overcome temptations, freedom from the sins of the world, a longing for our heavenly home, fitness for the kingdom, usefulness and, finally, to become more like the Savior. (See "More Holiness Give Me," Hymns, No. 131.)

With such a list of resolutions, the spirit of Christmas will abide with followers of Jesus Christ every day of the year.