Finding Meaning: Looking for Christmas spirit in a holiday greeting

"Are you ready for Christmas?"

I don't know how many times over the years I've been asked that question by well-meaning friends, neighbors, co-workers, store clerks and others as Dec. 25 has approached. Each time I've heard it, I've cringed inside.

I've cringed because I've assumed that what the questioners meant was, "Have you done your Christmas baking? Are your decorations up? Have you mailed your Christmas cards? Have you finished your shopping? Are your gifts wrapped?"

Rather than responding with some philosophical or theological statement about the true meaning of Christmas and risk the possibility of being misunderstood or hurting feelings, I've usually answered by simply saying, "I'm as ready as I'm going to be," or something to that effect.

I guess that all this time, I've hoped that someone would ask me, "Are you ready to receive the Christ Child anew into your heart this Christmas? Are you ready to share his love and forgiveness with all those around you? Are you ready to reach out a helping hand to those who need support and comfort and encouragement during the difficult times? Are you ready to do what is right instead of what is comfortable and convenient?"

If someday in mid-December, such an encounter with someone ever comes my way, I pray that I will be able to shout a resounding "yes" to each of those questions, for Christmas and far beyond.

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