Saturday, December 20, 2008

Want a merry Christmas? Choose to have one

(Originally published 12/20/08)

We talked in this space Thanksgiving week about things for which Americans can be thankful -– even when times are tough, as they are now.

Christmas is now upon us, and although this season means joy for millions around the world, for many others, the holidays just exacerbate their pain and loneliness.

One of my favorite things about Christmas is Christmas music, and one of my favorite Christmas songs is "'Til the season comes 'round again." But it's a bit different than the tunes of gaiety that usually typify the season.

The song is permeated with an underlying feeling that its author had been through a tough year. Although he doesn't elaborate or in any way describe his struggles, it's clear from the lyrics that in his life, fellowship with family and friends is more than a holiday obligation: It is what's keeping him going and giving him hope for the coming year.

In short, he makes a conscious decision to celebrate the season, giving thanks for what is instead of lamenting what isn't.

I recently heard someone expound on the power of the will to affect the emotions. We don't have to surrender our state of mind to the volatility of our circumstances, he said; we can choose to make our emotional state the result of an exercise of our will.

This is an important message -– not only for the many people out there who are struggling through a difficult holiday season of their own, but also for those of us who are not.

We can make a conscious decision to celebrate what we have. And we have a lot. Even in a down economy, as I discussed last month, Americans enjoy countless blessings that we simply take for granted every day.

In addition, we have the opportunity to make blessings for others. We can make a conscious decision to embody the season through acts of service or generosity to our neighbors. Donate to your favorite charity. Give to those less fortunate -– and be assured, there is always someone less fortunate.

But sharing the spirit of Christmas isn't only about money. Smile at people you meet. Look them in the eye when you speak to them. Really listen when you say, "How are you?" Show kindness to those around you.

On Christmas Eve, as I wrap presents and listen to the classic Christmas carols that have delighted people for 60 years or more, I'll be thinking of my Christmas wishes, which I share here with you:

  • That every child throughout the world would be safe, happy and loved;

  • That every homeless person would find inviting shelter;

  • That every hungry man, woman and child would have a warm meal to warm their souls;

  • That everyone already blessed with these things would share them with others, not just on Christmas but throughout the year; and

  • That your home on Christmas morning will be filled with the music of the season: songs of faith, family and giving – and the greatest gift of all.

    Merry Christmas!

  • No comments: