This is Christmas

I’ve always loved Christmas. Always. When I was little, it was because of the presents, of course, but even then, it was more than that.

Religiously, I appreciate what it symbolizes, and that becomes more relevant as my faith deepens. I realize, of course, that Christ wasn’t born on December 25th and that we really don’t know when he was born. But we don’t recognize Lincoln’s or Washington’s birthday on the exact date, either, so it’s not as though picking a date to represent an event is uncommon.

But for me, it’s about family and friends. It’s about seeing people I care about, spending time with them, even if it’s people I see on a semi-regular basis, and even if it’s only a brief lunch outing penciled in between the insane rush of the holidays.

It’s about Christmas carols playing, about the movies on TV, even the insanely corny ones like Hallmark Channel airs. Every year, I have to catch “A Very Brady Christmas” and “Christmas List” on ABC Family (though I’m not sure how Pixar and Harry Potter movies have anything to do with Christmas, yet they make it onto ABC Family’s schedule like every year). I have to watch “Home Alone” and “The Santa Clause” and, by far my favorite, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

Some people go crazy when Christmas music starts (earlier and earlier each year), but I say, as long as Halloween is over, bring it on. It’s such a limited time, and it always seems to rush right by.

It’s about Christmas lights on my drive home from work, or kids squealing with delight in the mall when they see Santa (which does still happen, and sometimes I even still believe in him). It’s about a smile on a stranger’s face when you do something nice for them sometime, randomly, because you’re in such good spirits.

It’s about hot chocolate and marshmallows, ham, turkey, or goose, cookies, pumpkin roll, and gingerbread.

Yes, bad things happen during the holidays – people get hurt on Black Friday, or stress over having enough money, finding the right gifts, making time for everyone they “need” to make time for. And this can all be disheartening and frustrating. If we let it.

I have a lot of reasons to dislike the holidays. My grandfather died just a couple days before Christmas a few years ago. Last year, just before Christmas, was absolutely horrible for personal reasons. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned lately, the only things that can truly bother us are the things that we allow to bother us.

So I choose to enjoy it. Because that’s why it’s here. And I hope that, no matter how frustrating and stressful and worrisome it gets, you can enjoy it, too. Because it’s fleeting.

And it’s a gift.

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