Christmastime is considered one of the most joyful and wonderful times of the year. Sometimes our Christmas goes exactly as we planned, and sometimes the unexpected happens. Whatever the case, we remember the "reason for the season" and celebrate the Infant King Whose birthday it is.
St. Therese says, "A God Who became so small could only be mercy and love." The Incarnation holds so many mysteries as the most central event in our salvation. The above quote of St. Therese's points to the reason for this event, the mercy and love of God.
What is mercy and what is love?
To borrow some ideas of St. Thomas Aquinas, mercy seeks to alleviate the sufferings of another, while love is willing the highest good of another. God comes down from Heaven as a little Child to save us from our sins and thus He takes on our sufferings. At the same time, He shows us the meaning of love by giving Himself completely to us, Who is our highest good.
Sometimes we don't know what to give God on Christmas, other than to tell Him how much we love Him in return. What God truly wants is our hearts, and everything held therein. Our loved ones, our desires, our needs, our ideas, our treasures, our sufferings...
If Christmas comes with sufferings this year, St. Teresa of Avila says:
"One must not think that a person who is suffering is not praying. He is offering up his sufferings to God, and many a time he is praying much more truly than one who goes away by himself and meditates his head off, and, if he has squeezed out a few tears, thinks that is prayer."
We can be closest to the Infant Jesus in our sufferings, if we remember that from the crib to the cross He suffered for love of us.
If Christmas is surrounded by joy, laughter, and good company, then we should be extra grateful. Those moments are the most precious in our lives. For a true Christmas filled with the love of God and surrounded by family and friends is the greatest gift of all.