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Wading through the noise for a real Christmas

It's easy to lose the wonder and awe of the Christmas season.

There's the buying, the baking, the wrapping, the decorating, the decking the halls with ivy and wassailing throughout the greater Dodge City metroplex. It's a time when we watch holiday specials on television where a small child decries commercialism and recites the book of Luke and the reason for Christmas--and are interrupted by 20 commercials begging you to "buy, buy, BUY!"

And, this all started in September--anyone else just need a break?

What happened to taking a moment to reflect on the peace and hope that was brought into our world more than 2,000 years ago one night in Bethlehem? Oh, wait, we now have the three wise men pushing a mattress sale on TV and shepherds heralding Black Friday deals. Well, that should practically scream peace and joy.

What happened to a child dreaming and making a list of wishes to take to Santa, and being surprised at one or two special deliveries under the tree Christmas morning? Oh, never mind. That list is now digitalized, sent to Santa and their parents, and they have a lawyer on retainer if their demands aren't meant satisfactorily. Nothing says, "Merry Christmas" quite like a lawsuit over unmet holiday gift expectations.

What happened to watching children dress up in their fathers' old bathrobes or tinsel angel wings and act out the nativity story in a simple homespun pageant in a small town church? How silly of me. Now we have store-bought costumes and a professional light and sound display to tell the story of baby Jesus. So much more fitting to the reason for the season, wouldn't you agree?

What happened to us when we would rather drop $80 a ticket to see some holiday concert--albeit a really remarkable concert--instead of donating time and money to our local community theaters and artists as they tell the story of Christmas?

Frankly, it's enough to make you question if there's any wonder and awe left in Christmas.

Some will read this and call me Scrooge-like, or sentimental, or even a hypocrite. Sure, I shop for bargains. I like those professional light displays. I even get a chuckle out of cheesy holiday commercials on TV this time of year. But at some point I also like to take a time out and really reflect on what Christmas means to me.

Whether that's making a pledge to never pass a red cauldron without dropping some change in it, or spending one evening driving around looking at lights and listening to Christmas music. Maybe it's holding on to traditional gifts that our family exchanges every year. Maybe it's taking a trip out to the country church and watching a stage full of small children dressed up as shepherds, wise men and angels telling the Christmas story in hand-me-down robes and tinsel wings.

At some point, amid all the noise of the season, you just have to stop and listen. Listen to your heart. It'll tell you that Christmas isn't about the glitter and bling.

It's about a gift more precious than anything you can find in a store.

Jennifer M. Latzke can be reached at 620-227-1807, or jlatzke@hpj.com.

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