An extraordinary, miraculous effect occurs as one calendar year begins preparing an exit and the next one prepares for birth. There’s a lightening of mood. Folks who have spent the whole year burdened by their responsibilities become aware of possibilities and alternatives previously unnoticed. Hope glows like a log in midwinter. In Western civilization it’s called the Christmas spirit, but it also affects people who don’t celebrate Christmas, and it happens in places that don’t have cold winters. It’s a cyclical force causing our spirits to rise, to transform ourselves for the better. This leavening ingredient lies napping within us always. Something about the way we ritualize time’s passage helps wake it up.
No matter what belief system you follow, and I include ethical behavior as equal to any religion, there are easy ways to open your spirit to new possibilities. One of my favorites is to enjoy whatever there is to enjoy by focusing on novel seasonal sensory experiences. Practice seeing the bright colors, lights and decorations the way children see them. Ooo…pretty! Smell the cooking. Surround yourself with song. I watch a lot of classic holiday-themed movies and programs on TV, because it helps me remember. These things are gifts we can give ourselves that cost little, yet have value.
I wrote an article last year about the history of Christmas symbolism called “How to Own Christmas”. I guess it hit the spot, because it’s been getting a lot of hits lately. No need to re-print it, but if you want to re-visit it, here’s the link:
Though you can’t see me, I want you to know I’m smiling. When you smile back, we have exchanged a greater gift than can be found in any store or catalogue.