Keeping Christmas

Pine cones and red Christmas baubles lying on a bed of green pine needles
IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Pine cones and bright red Christmas baubles lying on a bed of green pine needles in a clay pot


We are in the thick of Christmas season once again. The trees are up, the lights and stars twinkling in our homes and streets and shops and Christmas songs playing everywhere you go. There’s that bustle of activity in the air with shopping, decorating, wrapping gifts, visiting, baking cakes and cookies, planning get-togethers with family and friends, attending parties and so on. We say Christmas is for children and pretend that we do whatever we do for our children. But, admit it, even as adults we love Christmas. We may complain loudly about the stress of the preparations, but we find ourselves becoming more and more excited as the day draws near and the decorations begin to appear. I also tend to tear up easily this time of year as memories of Christmas past are triggered at every turn.

Christmas season weaves a special magic over everyone. It is the time of year when human beings are at their very best, sharing their love and wealth and gifts with family and friends and even people they've never met. We go out of our way to do nice things for other people, our smiles are a little wider and we laugh a little bit more. The atmosphere is cheerier and happier altogether.

Yes, Christmas is just such a wonderful time……a time of love, goodwill, hope, peace and joy. But why is it that this season makes people happier and kinder and everything so much more hopeful? I think it’s because we remember values of life that we are not really unaware of, but have ignored the whole year through. The focus during Christmas is on ‘giving’. Rather than focussing on ourselves, we become more thoughtful of others. We count our blessings and make a conscious effort to be kind and charitable. We think about the things we can do for others, or gifts we can give to those we love. We make time for them. We pause and take note of all that is good.

Christmas is a time when we do change the way we approach our life and the people in it, don’t we? We live the way we were intended to live. Sadly, once the festivities are over and the decorations come down, we tuck this beautiful Christmas spirit away until we can bring it out again at the end of the next year. When the props of the season disappear from view, our more loving and gentler nature often disappears along with them and we once again become consumed by our own needs and issues.

But the more I ponder upon it, the more I keep thinking how amazing it would be if we can keep the spirit of Christmas and make it a way of life. Anyway, why do we think that the feeling of Christmas has to be relegated to only a limited time in a year? We can make it stay with us every day if we allow it to. It’s not about being in a festive Christmas state of mind for twelve months of the year. It’s about the free flow of love, kindness, generosity, compassion and forgiveness that we open our hearts to at Christmas time. We are filled with the power of being, seeing and doing good. It’s about being less selfish and thinking more about others. That’s the ‘magic’ of Christmas.

To paraphrase David Grayson from his book ‘A Day of Pleasant Bread’, we try to crowd into Christmas the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. He goes on to say, “I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year.” I love that. And the great thing is there’s nothing stopping us from keeping the Christmas ‘magic’ alive all year through. We can choose to heed the better angels of our nature every day of our lives.

Have a blessed Christmas y’all!

May we not ‘spend’ Christmas or ‘observe’ Christmas, but rather ‘keep’ it
-          Peter Marshall




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