Celebrating December 25th has become a complicated affair. We struggle with what to call the day: Christmas, as it’s traditionally known; Winter Solstice, a newcomer name; Winter Holiday, rather generic; with additional options certain for the future. Even the most enthusiastic observers are dismayed at the holiday’s early arrival each year. December indicates winter, but this holiday debuts in summer, followed by the rapid transformation in stores from goblins on October 31st to Santa Claus and holly a mere 24 hours later.  What happened to harvest, autumn, or Thanksgiving? How unfortunate to skip over Thanksgiving because we all need a day, multiple days, really, to give thanks.

Alas, consumers have no votes on marketing strategies so the Fa La La lasts longer than it should. We fuss about the propriety of decorations and where they can be placed.  We trip over words uncertain if we should wish someone a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or neither. Gift giving is over the top with little regard for the novel consideration that bills come due in January when Santa is long gone. Wish lists are more complicated, expensive and lengthy.  Articles appear on surviving holiday depression or Christmas blues. And still we sing allegiance to “the most wonderful time of year.” A visitor unfamiliar with our traditions would be confused to say the least. We’re confused and we live through November and December each year.

That’s the season’s downside for those keeping track in hopes of finding justification for not celebrating. Scrooges we call them, with apologies to Charles Dickens. The upside is December 25th is the culmination of a promise for redemption, a day designed for dispelling the darkness with light that love produces. We can talk about commercialization, or we can focus on the outpouring of generosity and kindness. We can complain about crowded stores and long lines or enjoy the sheer delight of children admiring a twinkling Christmas tree. If we’re really fortunate, we’ll discover how to make Santa Claus seem incredibly real to a youngster or senior.

Christmas is like life itself, full of options, cynics, and believers.  Finding that elusive true meaning of the season is possible. It depends on where you look, and your participation. Forget the idea of a perfect holiday. Perfection doesn’t exist in this life.  What really matters are appreciation, adaptability, and awe. If those don’t come easy to you, pretend and practice until you develop a good sense of all three. It’s amazing the difference an attitude adjustment makes.

Remember to give to yourself during this holiday season. Indulge in quiet time for reflection, and do that which brings you joy.  If you want to share your best with loved ones, be certain to nurture the best that is in you.

Look around and savor the sights and sounds of the season.  Share the glad tidings and help enrich others with a sense of purpose. Do what you deem essential, and discard the rest.  Make merry in such a way as to create fond memories for you and loved ones.

Whether you believe in the miracle at Bethlehem, the magic of Santa, or the wonder of nature, or perhaps all three, honor your traditions and fashion your spirit of celebration to last throughout the year. Such will be the season’s cherished gift.

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