It’s Christmas. For some a time of hustle, bustle and party. For some it is a time of reflection. I’ve noticed that those reflections aren’t the same for everyone. For some those events signal joy and happiness, for others sorrow and loneliness.
The way we view Christmas and its meaning can be highly dependent on what stage of life we are in. Typically Christmas is a time for family and many of the events this time of year center around gathering loved ones from near and far to celebrate the holiday.
This Christmas season I have been prompted to think about the number of people in the US that are not married. For the first time, that percentage is over 50%.
Single Americans make up more than half of the adult population for the first time since the government began compiling such statistics in 1976. Some 124.6 million Americans were single in August, 50.2 percent of those who were 16 years or older, according to data used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That makes almost 65 million singles in the US.
How the cultural impact of Christmas, with so much focus put on families, connects with singles? The religious significance is the same for all of us because of the individual nature, a personal salvation. But what about the parties, the kids, the “family” meaning of Christmas?
I’ve also been considering a subset of singles, those who are divorced or connected with separated families. How do you juggle all the “family” get togethers when there are 4, 6 or even 8 sets of unique family units? The thought of that makes my head hurt, yet it is a reality at Christmas, and other celebrations, for a huge number of Americans.
Another emerging group is the 23% of families in America who are single parent families with children under the age of 18. This demographic suggests a new set of issues, and experiences that shape the meaning of Christmas.
We’ve been talking about “meaning” for the last two blogs. We’ve discussed the fact that memories of prior events trigger our present responses. And those responses help shape our individual future.
If Christmas-time is not filled with joy, if it does not provoke positive memories and mental triggers that shape each person’s future, what is the result? Does it jaundice our view of the Christ Child, Mary, Joseph and the events of His life?
What if we separate our experiences, our DNA of Meaning, surrounding the Christmas events from the reality that the God sent His only son? We can put aside our memories and experiences, especially the bad ones, and focus on the fact that God sent his son to extend our relationship with Him, and to then make the sacrifice of Easter. That sacrifice opens the door to our eternal salvation if we chose to walk through it.
There are many that do remember and currently experience hard times and hard memories around this Holiday. My prayer is that each of us will be sensitive to the pain of others, examine the pain we may have personally, and lift our face to the Heavenly Hosts and join our voices with the Angels.
My personal wish to each of you, from my home and the Envoy Team, is a Meaningful Christmas for you and yours.
Living with Trusted Advice together,
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