The Joy of the Season

By: T.W. Winslow

The Christmas holiday season should be a time of great joy. A time when we remember all those things which make our lives rich and full. A time to reflect and be thankful for what we have. A time to share love and fellowship with family and friends. A time to remember those less fortunate. A time of faith. A time of wonder.

But is this really what the season brings? For many, this is a season of stress and burden, even sadness and despair. Perhaps it's time we took a step back and gave some thought as to what the holidays really mean to us and what holds true meaning and what does not.

When I think of what makes this a joyful season for me, the simple things come to mind... a cozy fire, warm wishes from friends far away, the excitement and laughter of children, gestures of goodwill, selfless acts of kindness, watching It's A Wonderful Life for the ten-thousandth time, the scent of pine, Christmas carols and colored lights, the feeling of hope and the love of my family. These are but a few of the many things about the season which have meaning for me.

My guess is, I'm not alone. I suspect most of us find the joy of the season in these kinds of simple pleasures rather than in what we find under the tree or in the obligations we think we need to fulfill. So why then do we subject ourselves to those things which cause us stress and grief?

The commercialization of Christmas most certainly is one of the problems. Being subjected to the constant barrage of ads for toys and trinkets has detracted from the real meaning of the season. Excessive gift buying, credit card debt, crowded stores, long lines at the post office, ... all have become a normal part of our holiday routine. But is this really what it's all about? Is this really where the joy of the season is found?

I'm not suggesting giving isn't part of the spirit and joy of Christmas - it is. However, it's not necessarily the giving of gifts, but rather the giving of ourselves.

"We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love." Mother Teresa

Donating toys, food, and money to charities rather than buying so much for our own families. Spending Christmas eve reading stories to the elderly at a local retirement home rather than hosting a party for friends. Helping serve Christmas dinner at a homeless shelter rather than cooking a huge meal for ourselves. This is giving in the true spirit of Christmas and are ways of finding the joy of the season.

The point is simply this... perhaps in all the hype we've lost sight of what Christmas is all about. We're so busy running around doing those things which we feel are expected of us, that we rob ourselves of the joy of the season. Maybe it's time for a change. Maybe it's time to recapture the simple pleasures this time of year has to offer. It may be as easy as embracing those things which have real meaning and moving away from those things which do not.

The joy of the season is still alive and well, it always has been. Maybe we've just been too distracted to notice.

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