After summer departs into the dark days of winter, there is a gauntlet of festivities to prepare for.

If Canadian, Thanksgiving is the first celebratory event to gather friends and family. To show gratitude for all that is good in our lives.

Do we really reflect on things we are grateful for?

Maybe its just the enjoyment of having a day off school, and work.

Maybe its the indulgence of specialty foods that are on our no-go food list.

Its an exhausting day trying to make everything perfect from a juicy turkey to melt in your mouth pies.

I always forget something. Like the corn left in the microwave or sweet potatoes warming in the oven that no one even missed.

So, after all are gone, with dishes piled up high, we sit and reflect on how we measured up. It was definitely a good night if no feelings were hurt or dishes broken.

After its all over the silence is definitely bliss.  I am grateful for that.

Halloween is pushing its way in, even before the turkey is gone.

Party planning, costume decisions, and don’t forget the decorations. I used to be all about that. The total ghoul experience for the kids was delightful.

Don’t forget the acquisition of those miniature size bars that you need to get a month in advance before they are sold out or go missing at home.

November 11, Remembrance Day, sneaks by showing poppies on lapels and 1 hour of respect. The abundance of war movies reminds us how lucky we are to benefit from the sacrifice of those who fought for our freedom.

November 12, Christmas is now in full swing.

Are we tired yet?

The hopes of a magical Christmas ring true in our hearts with the commercials and movies displaying what ‘Christmas Is’.

All the beautiful decorations, perfectly coifed hair and food straight from a Martha Stewart cook book are a visual delight. Of course, no matter the challenges in these movies, there is always a happy ending. Love, presents and resolution to problems giving hope that miracles are alive and do exist.

Is that what ‘Christmas Is’?

What we see around us is a high bar to reach. So, what happens if we don’t achieve that gold standard.

What if we are not surrounded by loving friends and family?

What if Christmas dinner is take-out from Swiss Chalet?

What if money is not there to buy all the latest toys and gadgets?

What if there is no magic in sight?

What if addictions sabotage the whole thing?

How do you survive this pinnacle event of the year?

I’ve experienced it all.

Christmas ruined by excess alcohol.

Extra jobs were needed sometimes due to limited funds providing presents for 5 children.

Then there were years when there was money to do all the extras to reach that gold standard.

Do I hate Christmas? No, I have learned how to serpentine my way through decades of change.

I do hate the pressure it puts on people.

Robberies, divorce, domestic violence and depression are some of the side effects of this pressure.

Let’s go back to the beginning…. What is Christmas?

Christmas is the celebration of God’s ultimate gift: the birth of Jesus, the Christ child.

So, all the things I previously listed, do they have anything to do with this statement.  A Definitive No!

As a society we have departed so far away from its origin. Sure, there are whisperings in songs, lights and gifts, but far in excess of what needs to be.

That brings me to my best Christmas ever…

Once upon a time I lived in a magical place near a lake. It was wonderful in the spring, summer and even the fall.  Each season brought new and enjoyable activities. Residents that lived there were happy visiting in the streets and engaging in water activities. Little businesses were thriving with visitors wanting to partake in the offerings.

Then came winter, the visiting was gone, as well as the activities that were previously enjoyed.

The streets were silent.

My son and I had a vision to wake up this sleepy hollow in the winter.  With my experience in event planning and his expertise in festive lighting a Christmas Event plan was born.

We put together a business plan

We received permission from the parks board

We engaged others to volunteer

We secured sponsors to raise funds for lights.

We made a marketing plan

We also organized a 3-day event, including Santa arriving in a helicopter.

It took days! My son and his friend decorated trees with Christmas lights illuminating the park. The lights were viewed and enjoyed for the month of December. One resident remarked “it was like living on Broadway” as she was on the front row where the lights were installed.

This was magical! We felt so much appreciation from local residents. They were out in the streets visiting again.  More decorations went up as we initiated a House Decorating Contest.

Visitors came up to me crying and hugging me saying “I really needed this today” thank you!

This sleepy winter village became the talk of the town and people traveled from miles around to experience this Christmas display.

No money needed. Free parking, free hot chocolate, free cookies and lots of good cheer.

Lights, music, and a Nativity created a sense of reverence.

That’s what ‘Christmas Is’.

Not the glitz and glamour and emptying of wallets at the mall.

Family and friends gathering together, enjoying the spirit of Christmas.

How did I find the Merry in Christmas?

It was not the years I tried to create a ‘Fairy Tale Christmas’ that commercialism generates for us.

It was the time I put smiles on peoples faces.  

No matter our status in life we can always find ways to make people happy.

Smiles.

Notes of gratitude.

Recognizing good works.

Wishing people, A Merry Christmas.

If that’s all you can give, that’s everything.

When you see the smiles, it will give you ‘Christmasbumps’.

That’s a start, imagine the domino effect showing?

Love to One Another.

That’s what ‘Christmas Is’.


“Maybe Christmas he thought doesn’t come from a store, Maybe Christmas perhaps, means a little bit more.”

Dr. Seuss 

 

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