…it’s the most wonderful time of the year. A season filled with laughter, family gatherings, gift giving and receiving, and the contrast of cold weather and warm hearts and homes. This Christmas season is probably the most joyous I’ve felt in many years…maybe ever. I’m in a positive frame of mind. I’m emotionally and physically healthy. I have a variety of loving, gratifying personal relationships that keep me grounded and make me a better person. I’m emotional. I cry almost every day…from happiness, laughing, sadness, compassion… the tears flow freely. It’s hard to believe how far I’ve come…how much I’ve grown. It’s hard to believe how the days when I told myself it would get better, that things would work how they were supposed to…got better and worked out.
Christmas wasn’t always a wonderful time for me, and I know for so many it brings turmoil, stress, sadness…things that oppose the meaning of Christmas. The financial burden around Christmas is staggering. The commercialism…the pressure to buy and spend, with money we don’t have, is real and in our faces. Relationships are strained…a time when peace, love and joy is all around, many of us aren’t feeling it. Already tenuous relationships, with family or spouses, seem to have more friction when we’re forced to be together and look happy. I’m so lucky to have all my kids and family and friends close…and alive. Christmas, it seems, would intensify the sorrow of the loss of loved ones. When they’re supposed to be with us, laughing and hugging and opening gifts and drinking hot chocolate, instead there is a big, empty, painful hole. Christmas accentuates the hole.
Then I hear stories and I see people who have way less than I’ve ever had…even at my lowest point. People who are living lives I can’t wrap my head around. Homelessness. Addiction. Abuse. No job. No food. No family. It really is unimaginable to me. Christmas isn’t warm and cheerful for them.
I’m not a “religious” person. I believe in God. I believe in a personal responsibility to help others (even though I fall short here). I believe in the doctrine of many of the main religions…to be a good person and treat others with respect and dignity…the way I’d want to be treated. But at Christmas, CHRISTmas, reflecting on the real “reason for the season” pulls together the conflict between my joy and the pain and hurt so many are feeling. Jesus taught many things…a gentle, wise man of love. During this season of jingle bells, cheer, charity, and the celebration of the birth Jesus Christ:
1. Love. Love your neighbor. Love your enemy. Love the poor. Just love each other.
2. Live the Golden Rule.
3. Forgive freely.
4. Show compassion for everyone.
5. Be sincere. Not a hypocrite.
6. Be humble.
7. Give your time, treasure, and talents to others.
8. Be good. Do good. And when you fall short, it’s ok. Keep trying.
My heart is full of Christmas cheer. I hope I can spread a little of that cheer by giving and living and loving…freely, completely, all out!