Are you just about ready to yell, “Bah Humbug!” Is the Christmas spirit turning into a bad spirit that seems to be haunting you? Breathe deeply. You are not alone. December is a crazy, chaotic month when expectations can smother you like a heavy fog moving in for the kill. Lists, lists, and more lists. Other people requesting things and the calendar is your enemy. Cold, damp weather brings on some joint pain and stiffness in the old folks (yeah, that’s me) and the juggling act is an amazing performance.  The bah-humbug spirit is chasing hard after your last nerve!  You didn’t expect this from me, did you? Actually, in the midst of the frenzy, I confess that I can feel all those things, but I do love sitting at night before bed with my hot vanilla chamomile tea, scrolling through the lovely photos online at whatever site I land. Those amazing shots of winter wonderland forests, candles burning on mantels, and chihuahuas in their red sweaters do help me relax and smile and think some fuzzy thoughts about the season.

Several phone calls I received this past week reminded me that not everyone is basking in the glow of the fireplace while hanging their stockings. Christmas can be the most stressful time of the year. People without families envision “everyone else” coming together with love, gifts and warm embraces, while they’re sitting home alone. Single people fantasize that life would likely be perfect at Christmas with a spouse to share it with. Many who struggle to make ends meet every month of the year push themselves to ulcers trying to figure out how to buy gifts for everyone, in addition to paying the past due bills. And, those grieving the loss of loved ones reminisce and long for times past. These things can rob us of joy and peace in a heartbeat.

What is Jesus thinking as He looks upon us in our hectic activities and stress filled days? Of course, I don’t know, but I think I can make an educated guess. I think He is slowly shaking his head, reaching out His nail scarred hands toward each of us, attempting to calm us, to infuse us with His peace and love. He longs for us to stop the insanity and just sit at His feet. Just be with Him. He doesn’t really care if we celebrate His birth.He certainly doesn’t care about our shopping and parties. He just wants us to be so filled with His love and His Presence that our lives illuminate the darkness—-in a more pure and perfect way than all the twinkling lights on our rooftops. If only we could get it! We don’t need all the hype. We only need Him. Joy and peace originate with Him. There is no other place to find them.

When January finally settles in, I want to look back and say that my best Christmas was this one—the one where I took more time to sit with Jesus, getting to know Him more, experience Him more deeply, and the one where I didn’t really care about the gifts, decor and food. Those things are nice, but they are the lesser things. Like Mary and Martha (in Luke 10), Jesus was blessed by Mary’s heart of zeal to sit at His feet and experience fellowship with Him, while Martha was scurrying about, fretting. There’s really no reason why we can’t change things in our holiday routines. We can. I am working on it. Peace on earth, goodwill towards men is a wonderful ambition. And the best way to celebrate Christmas. Let’s try to make some positive changes so that we truly experience the love of Jesus and share it with everyone we are in contact with. I believe that is the real Christmas spirit. The Holy Spirit of God moving in us and through us. As others observe our peace and joy, they will begin to reach out to Him to receive it too.

Best Wishes to you all this season!