Gareth Harper

When I was growing up, Christmas was about a few things. First among them, obviously were the gifts. Giving and receiving the right ones. However, there was something about that change in the atmosphere, not just because of the weather, but the attitude everyone had with one another. Maybe that is why this has always been my favorite time of year. From mid-November to December 34th I am in my element. I mean, to be fair, I start listening to Christmas music November 1st. However, as I started to grow up, I made the choice to start going to church. And that in turn changed the season for me. It now took on a different feeling for me. I’ll never forget proudly pinning my, “Keep the CHRIST in Christmas” button onto my winter jacket. Or ensuring I responded with the smiling, “Merry Christmas” to every, “happy holiday” greeting I received.

I imagine for some people, I was completely unbearable.

But that’s what growth is about right? One day you you look back and realize that you are absolutely disgusted with the person you where when you started your journey. At the same time you are also proud you were able to listen to others to the point where you adjusted and changed your toxic behaviors and grow. In this advent season, that is what I find myself focusing on, and will be spending the next few weeks writing about. Each week I will be focusing on the candle we light and sharing what my former self would have wanted in contrast to where I am at now.

For me, this season of anticipation of the birth story is about change. I mean, that’s really the story of this season right? It is the underlying current in almost all films that take place around the Christmas holiday. A classic in the Benson household is the cinematic masterpiece Scrooged. Staring Bill Murray, a network television president is given the Ebenezer Scrooge experience when he realizes it is never too late to stop where you are and go the other way. While you cannot undo the past, you can learn from it, accept its rebuke, seek atonement, and move forward.

The advent season is when we collectively buy into the idea that anything is possible for this world and we try and bring that spirit into being. So, for me, focusing on my uncomfortable and narrow-minded religious beginnings to where I currently am, is my way of bringing that change into being. Feel free to join in with this journey, in this season of recognizing personal growth as we await the oncoming hope. The idea that we are continually moving toward the reconciliation of all things.

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