When you ask someone what their favorite time of the year is, most often they tell you it is Christmas.
Growing up I knew it was a special time of year. It was Jesus’ birthday and though Santa Claus was the main focus for many, there was “something” in the air that trumped Santa. It was a “feeling.” We waited anxiously for the Christmas Spirit to light upon us. It never failed.
The Christmas Spirit, when it hit you, enveloped your entire being. You were in love with life. Your eyes glistened and your insides felt bathed in pure love. It never failed to happen, you just didn’t know when it would – but it was always before Christmas.
We also shopped differently back then. We saved our money to go shopping. We usually started a Christmas Savings Account right after the first of the year so that we would be ready. We paid cash. Sometimes we would put items on layaway. We didn’t have credit cards.
Since I grew up in the city, it was customary to dress up and go downtown. Generally we rode the bus or sometimes, before the shopping centers came, we would drive downtown and park in the parking deck.
All of the big department stores were decorated lavishly. The store windows beckoned you to come in. Christmas music played in the store and excitement filled the air and we loved the crowds. It was such a lovely time.
As we went from store to store, we encountered people on the street who were perched on the street hoping someone would put some coins in their cup, and there was the Salvation Army kettle. We felt so privileged to be able to give, and we didn’t have much ourselves, but didn’t know it.
The annual Christmas parade brought everyone out to see the floats and then shop. Santa arrived via the parade. There were Santas everywhere, but my Mother always took us to Loveman’s Department Store to see their Santa.
Then there was getting the Christmas tree or putting up the artificial one. Our tradition was to put it up the day after Thanksgiving.
As we shopped, we wrapped and place the hand-wrapped or store-wrapped Christmas gifts under the tree. By Christmas Day, all the bought presents, plus Santa’s delivery, were under the tree for opening.
We could hardly sleep on Christmas Eve. It was the one night, other than when we were expecting the tooth fairy or the Easter Bunny that we actually didn’t have to be made to go to bed.
The next morning we were up before the sun eagerly anticipating the opening of packages.
This was, however, not just about presents. Just as putting money in the cup for the person on the street or the kettle, my Grandmother would cook so much we would put together a tray of all of the wonderful Christmas foods to share with those who were not able to cook or have family.
Those were wonderful lessons about giving and sharing.
So why all of this this about Christmas now at the end of May? It is not even Christmas in July.
Remember how I said people say Christmas is their favorite time of the year? Remember how during the Christmas Season we say we wish this feeling could last all year long: it can.
As we deliver “random acts of kindness,” or “pay it forward,” in some way to share good, we have received, we are taking the Spirit of Christmas with us beyond its usual season.
In the Snowflake-Taylor area, the White Mountain Community Freehold has launched their “Boatload of Food Drive.” They know people give money and food for others at Christmas, but the cupboards of the food pantries still have to be filled. People need food and clothing all year long, not just at Christmas. They are extending the Spirit of Christmas.
The Faith with Action group from Grace Church seeks clothing all year long. They have extended the Spirit of Christmas.
The White Mountain Woman’s Club takes advantage of the summer months especially to raise money to help the local nonprofits. They are extending the Spirit of Christmas.
I know there are others.
You may be giving a shelter pet a forever home, paying someone’s utility bill, buying them a set of tires, paying their child’s tuition, dropping off dog or cat food to a local shelter, delivering a bag of groceries to someone who is struggling, or even leaving an envelope of money for someone whose life will be substantially change because of that gift.
These are all acts of extending the Spirit of Christmas.
Doing these things without others knowing it even make it more special. The way it makes you feel cannot be expressed in words.
I challenge each of you, as I challenge myself, to bring back the Spirit of Christmas into your lives.
Cut out the words at the top of this page and post them where you can see them and act on them.
And that thought you had at Christmas of how wonderful it would be to have Christmas all year long will actually happen.
I still have my Christmas tree up. When I feel overwhelmed by all that is pressing on me at the moment to keep up with the demands of life, I turn on the lights, and for just a few moments, I am transported back to the Christmas Season and the true meaning of Christmas.
What I BELIEVE is the Spirit of Christmas is renewed in each of us each time we do something good for another… especially when it is anonymous. Be a Secret Santa for someone and you will experience the Spirit of Christmas every time you do it.