Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.
Christmas eve was a night of song that wrapped itself about you like a shawl. But it warmed more than your body, it warmed your heart … filled it too with melody that would last forever.
Bess Streeter Aldrich
The joy of brightening other lives, bearing others’ burdens, easing other’s loads and supplanting empty hearts and lives with generous gifts becomes for us the magic of Christmas.
Mankind is a great, an immense family … This is proved by what we feel in our hearts at Christmas.
Pope John XXIII
It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.
I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year. Charles Dickens
Christmas—that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance—a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.Agusta E. Rundel
Last week I met with moms for a sort of collective deep breath before the holiday rush. We took an intentional “time out” before the holiday season had engulfed us completely and spat us back out the other side of “New Year’s” worse for the wear. We took a moment, like Mary, to ponder some things in our hearts: to consider exactly what we WANT our holidays to look and feel, to sound and smell like, to BE about, before they are over. No matter if you love or hate the season, no matter if you are filled with joy or heartache this year, you DO have an opportunity to make them what you want them to be for you and your family. Of course you can not control every moment. If you’re a mom, you should know that by now….your 3 1/2 year-old-daughter just MAY have a breakdown at the downtown Christmas tree lighting (ahem….Ellie), your son just MIGHT decide to stake out his own spot for the busy downtown Christmas parade while you’re in the bathroom (yes, that was Mr. MJ last year). But you DO have control over the whole “spirit” of the season for yourself and your family. You set the tone, you schedule the activities, you say “yes” and “no” to invitations, to to-do lists, to present requests. You decide how you and your children will spend valuable time together or apart. You decide to connect through loving touch, through playful interactions, through JOY and PEACE and LOVE. But it helps to SLOW down, even stop in the midst of the business to decide just what your intentions will be. It helps to discuss them with your “parenting team”, even your children.
Consider the question, “What does ‘Christmas Spirit’ mean to you?“, and this can guide the decisions you make about how your family will spend time over the holidays. To me, it means “Magic”, it means “Giving”, it means “Unity”. So I will look for opportunities to create and celebrate the “magic” and wonder of Christmas with my children – I only get to be a mom of young children once! I will incorporate “giving” into the season whenever possible, to help us to look outside of ourselves to the needs of others, just as Jesus and Santa do! I will find ways to expand our horizons as we discuss the many celebrations of light around the world at this season, and how the message of “PEACE” binds us all together when we “pass the peace” to others through kind words, thoughts, and actions in our world. I asked my kids this weekend what they thought “Christmas Spirit” meant. MJ whispered, “joy” (yes!), and Ellie said, “snow and presents”! I told them what it meant to me, and it provided an opportunity for discussion. Ellie talked about giving food to hungry people. I also said it means “singing”, and burst into “Glooooria in excelsis Deo” to which little scrooge Ellie declared that she does NOT like singing! (Though just a couple of hours later, she was belting out this same carol in the car.) Later, we discussed “Christmas Spirit” with Daddy on a Christmas picnic at a park. He said that to him, it means “family”, quality time together. (Which he got a big dose of when he took the kids on a long bike ride!)
Choose one of the above quotes – do any of them speak to you? Or choose a few of key words – maybe 3 – that sum up the “Spirit” of the season for YOU – what you want your focus to be. If you have older children, you can decide this as a family. Then post them somewhere – in your car or on the fridge – as a sort of “guide post” for your season. In addition to “family” and “joy”, some of the moms this week said “Tradition”, “Peace”, “Calm”. What comes to mind for you? Check the decisions you make about your family’s schedule against them, check your resentments and grudges against them, check your own stress and internal “spirit” when you see them. Look for little opportunities to infuse these moments and values into your routines and interactions. Let these words paint a “vision” for your holidays – that you might be blessed with true CONNECTION to the “Christmas Spirit” and to others this season! Wishing you…