>First Trimester

>The busyness of the Holiday season has already begun. I have heard tales of shopping at 4:00 am on Black Friday for the early bird specials. Some even started their shopping at 12:01 am on Black Friday for the early, early bird, or perhaps night owl, deals. Tech savvy shoppers ordered their gifts at web sites from the comfort of their own home or office on Cyber Monday.

A new shopping day is taking its place among the big Christmas shopping days – Small Business Saturday. Shoppers were encouraged to shop at local small businesses for those on their Christmas lists, which in turn is a gift to their community because proceeds of their purchases stayed with local workers and shop owners.

This year, UACC held its second annual Alternative Gift Faire. Shoppers could give a gift to a person or child around the world in honor of the loved ones on their shopping list. This type of faire is still in the infancy stages, but shoppers and gift recipients do see the value in the alternative gift.

Financial advisors and gurus are chiming in on the holiday shopping season. They remind us that a great deal isn’t such a great deal on a credit card – you’ll pay much more than the regular price for the item if you don’t pay off the balance the month the bill is received. Our friends and family will still love us if we shop within our budget and don’t give extravagant gifts with the price tag of increased debt.

Now that we are quickly checking off names from the Christmas shopping list, next week will summons in the beginning of the busy social calendar. We begin office parties and school parties and open houses and Holiday movies and Holiday theater. As we fly through the Holiday season, we might relate to Santa’s reindeer Dasher and Comet.

During the Advent season, should we be more like Santa’s reindeer and elves? Or, should we be more like Mary and Joseph?

I am not a mother, but I do remember vividly the anticipation of the arrival of my niece and nephew. I wonder what s/he would look like…what kind of person would s/he be…what would they do? A newborn baby ushers in a renewed sense of the infinite possibilities life holds.

Every new baby cries as the first breath of their life forges through his/her lungs. Its as if s/he calls to attention everyone who will care for him/her. The newborn’s great possibilities require great responsibility. Have you heard the old adage: it takes a village to raise a child. Cultivating and growing potential requires hard work, dedication, love, compassion, tenderness, discipline, teaching…the list is as long as the people who will rear the child.

The world would be a much different place if we spent as much time preparing a nursery within our heart for the coming Christ child as we did buying and wrapping and giving presents. Just as it takes a village to raise one child, it takes the whole body of Christ to share the peace, joy, hope and love of this Holy season with the entire world for the entire calendar year.

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