The Joy of Christmas

It’s that time of year again. Feliz Navidad!

Christmas is one of my least loved holidays and best loved all at the same time. I love the decorations that appear throughout the holiday season. I used to wish that I would get to experience a white Christmas just once in my life and got my wish a few years ago. There is joy to be found in Christmas. As a Christian, I love the Advent season that prepares Christians all around the world for the story of the Birth of Jesus. In many ways, it’s a gentle reminder that hope for a better world can be found and that if we allow ourselves love, anything is possible.

Christmas is a cold and lonely holiday for those who are grieving or are alone in the world. When your heart is broken, it’s difficult to see the true meaning of the season when all you see is pain. One of the most difficult things I had to process through was watching children in plays at Christmas. When having children is yanked away from you, it can be a cold, disheartening, brutal feeling that can leave a person feeling bereft, depressed, overwhelmed, angry and bitter all bottled up in a case of Christmas blues. It can also leave an imprint that only love can help heal.

How many of you have ever endured a Christmas that you just wanted it to go away and quickly? Have you felt that if there are really angels out there that they forgot your name, much less your zip code and you truly felt as if no one cared? Yeah. I think we all have had some point in our lives that we can all relate to. In the last few years, I’ve really had to re-evaluate my views on Christmas. I could feel myself turning into Ebeneezer Scrooge and had literally gotten to the “Bah Humbug” stage because nothing felt right. Thankfully, my faith, my family, and friends who I would be lost without opened my eyes.

Have any of you ever made a snow angel? I remember making them as a kid but I haven’t made one as an adult. What about making Christmas Snow Cream? There was a time that making snow cream was delightful. We didn’t have to worry about all the pollutants in the air that made the snow cream harmful. Homemade yeast rolls were something to be craved every Christmas. I loved how my mom would work the dough and then sit the yeast rolls out in front of the fire to rise. She only did this a few times but man those yeast rolls are remembered to this day and it’s been a good 35 years since she made them. What about the smell of the evergreens when you find the perfect Christmas tree? The smell itself makes me think of being in the mountains and having all my senses heightened. Then there’s nothing like getting the tree home and decorating it. Those are the things that allow memories to be imprinted in our minds and hearts. I’ve never made a gingerbread house. I see them all the time on movies and would love to try but truth be told I’m not very artistic. It would probably come out looking like a blob. I may give it a try just to see though. Maybe I can get some friends together and we can do it as a team. It could be a lot of fun.

This season brings out the kid in many people

Then there’s the Christmas Spirits. Oh yeah. The alcohol kind. Some of my friends are die hard egg nog fans. They will tell you they look forward to the egg nog every season. Me? Nope. But, I do love the smell of Gingerbread so when my friends bring in their Gingerbread lattes and Nutmeg treats, it brings me back to a simpler time in my life where the thoughts of spices can make me wish I could conjure up the Sugar plum dreams. I remember as a kid, going to New York and watching the skaters ice skating outside and being completely mesmerized by their movements. I tried to learn how to ice skate but that was a disaster. For all those folks who have no coordination on the ice, you aren’t alone. There are many of us who struggle with ice. That doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate what other skaters can do. In their own way, they give a Joy to Christmas too.

Christmas movies are constantly playing on the Hallmark Channels this time of year. I love watching the classic TV specials on CBS like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. It takes me back to my childhood and for that small window of time, I can feel like that little kid who was full of awe and wonder as to how those characters came to life on the screen. I could relate to the island of misfit toys and I always tend to cry at the weirdest times. I know. Weird right? Oh well. It’s just me. I don’t think we have to be a child to enjoy the simple things. If that was the case, none of us would enjoy the comics and there’s a lot of folks in this world that love the Marvel and DC Comic world. There’s something in those movies that makes all of us enjoy the heroes and we can even relate to them on certain levels. Maybe that’s why the Joy of Christmas is all around us. We see the good in the world, even when there’s a lot of bad things happening.

When I think of the Christmas season, I think of all the various non profits who are helping others. The Salvation Army is one of the organizations that helps people year round but they are really seen more throughout the Christmas season. The bell ringers remind us of not just helping with our money but they are among the first to offer smiles and Merry Christmas sentiments. It doesn’t matter what the weather conditions are, the men and women who are helping them bring in donations are a true testament to believing in something bigger than themselves. There’s a lot of love that’s given when someone does this. They understand what it means to give back to others. They aren’t alone. There are people all over the world who help. Those of you reading may be some of them. Bravo. There needs to be more folks willing to give not just money but time and consideration to others.

There are many different religions in this world. Many of them do not celebrate Christmas. They have their own holidays and celebrations. It’s truly a blessing that we are all different. What I mean by this is can you imagine if everyone believed the same thing? I can’t. I like diversity. I love getting to know other cultures and religions. It strengthens my knowledge. If I’m willing to admit that I don’t know everything, then I open the door to learning. People don’t have to believe in Christmas. Believing in the human spirit and kindness has taught me a few things. One, is that people are always full of surprises. When you think you know exactly what someone is going to do and then they do the opposite, that’s a surprise. When someone you haven’t seen in years makes themselves present to you, that’s an unexpected blessing.

May your holiday season be filled with love and happiness.

In my heart, I know that the loved ones that I’ve lost over the years are embedded into my memories. Even though Christmas can be painful, there’s been a lot of folks who have come to my rescue and let me know that I’m not alone and it’s okay to cry at silly things. It’s healthy to reflect on the things that are weighing heavily on your mind and allowing those growing pains to begin to heal your heart.

I hope as you are all preparing for whatever you celebrate, that you focus on the people you love and miss. I hope you are all able to set aside anger and hostility to those who have wronged you and learn to forgive. Every day should have some type of Christmas mentality. People overall are good. Don’t judge someone just because you can. Learn to see beyond what is visible. You can’t see Christmas magic literally. You can’t see what causes joy on so many faces. What you can see is that the world is filled with opportunities. Those opportunities at Christmas can often last a lifetime. We are all a part of the joy of the holiday season. This holiday, I hope that you can all experience the little joys that make a huge difference. Peace everyone.

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