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Opening Up

The Gift Of Christmas

December 18, 2014

Once again the holidays are upon us. It seems like only yesterday we were setting off firecrackers, tending to sunburned bodies with dabs of aloe and swinging to and fro in the hammock under the summer stars.

There are a lot of folks across the land who really dread the onslaught of the holidays. For many it’s a time of depression, stress and anxiety. I guess if that song about Grandma getting run over by a reindeer doesn’t get you down, the all too frequent phrase “Some assembly required” will.

Gone are the days when I used to toss and turn in my trundle bed on Christmas Eve, listening for the prancing and pawing of each little hoof. It’s amazing what the power of suggestion can do. I swear at least a couple of years I actually did hear jingle bells tinkling on the rafters above my head. Of course my little head was filled with visions of sugar plums at the time, so I may have been mistaken.

Every year, I would faithfully set out a plate of sugar cookies topped with red and green sprinkles I’d made especially for Santa. And, every year the cookies would be gone along with the glass of cold milk that accompanied them. never really noticed the faint trace of a milk mustache on Dad’s upper lip come Christmas morn.

I was always amazed to see the stocking, which I had hung by the chimney with care, brimming with fruits, nuts and candy after Santa’s visit. Well, actually it wasn’t a stocking, it was really an old athletic sock. But hey, at least it was clean.

Whatever happened to that Christmas magic, the sparkle and spark of anticipation in the air?

In crossing the bridge between childhood and teen years the sugar plums can turn sour. That’s when you realize it was always someone else working the charms, adding a special touch to the festive season.

Between adolescence and adulthood you begin to really figure it out. If there’s any Christmas magic to be performed, it will have to be squeezed between mortgage payments, insurance premiums and utility bills. It’s hard to wash down magic dust with a cup of Christmas cheer when cold, hard reality is doing a tap dance around the Christmas tree to the tune of “I’ve Got the Credit Card Blues.”

A merry Christmas - to be, or not to be?

It’s a matter of choice. You can be a blithe Christmas spirit or a crusty ol’ humbug. We’re big kids now, no falling back on “Santy” to make wishes come true. If Christmas magic is what you want, look inside yourself because it’s there, inside your heart, that St. Nick lives.

The holiday is, after all, not really about who brings in the largest “haul” on Christmas day. It’s about ideas, imagination, faith, hope ... charity.

The soot of responsibility can easily cloud the windows of the soul. But, the season of Christmas really is full of magic. Break out the Windex - life’s too short to miss the view. Focus in. It can be seen not in the bright twinkling lights scattered throughout the community, but rather in the time, thought and effort it took to string each bright strand for the enjoyment of passersby. It amounts to the simplest things— camaraderie of friends and neighbors, the beauty of the winter sunset, a bright red cardinal, the aroma of pine, the smell of the crisp night air, or a hearty hot toddy!

The charm of the holidays lies in relinquishing fears, doubts and worries to start afresh and look beyond yourself. There’s a whole universe of beautiful Christmas moments every day of the year.

Some people believe there’s no cure for the holiday blues. Bah! The magic is evident if you let faith guide your vision. It’s found in the most precious gift of all—life. It’s the very essence of the holiday. It’s what the manger scene was all about. And, it shines bright as the star which shone over Bethlehem centuries ago ... If you’ll only let it.

Joyeux Noel, Feliz Navidad or, as we say here in the south, “Merry Christmas ...ya’ll!

 

 

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