Christmastime is a time to find inner peace

December 23, 2010

Christmas Day has the joy, but Christmas Eve has the spirit.

It's the calm before the paper-shredding, food-shoveling, battery-operated storm that, for better or worse, has come to define Christmas. We find that Christmas Eve — after the last store has closed and after the last cookie has been baked — is the most soulful time of the season, the time for taking a breath and enjoying the lighted tree and unripped rainbow of color beneath it. Perhaps some candles and the scent of pine complete the mood.

It is the mood of peace, when serenity hangs lightly in the air.

And more than anything, it is peace that we wish for everyone this holiday. We wish people peace and contentment, no matter where or in what manner this lottery of life has set us down. We would gently point out (and we would not be the first) that there is little correspondence between one's monetary and spiritual wealth. That should tell us something, and it does — it tells us that our frame of mind, our outlook on life, are the drivers of our happiness.


No, we cannot control our mood as we can switch on our Christmas lights. But just as there are exercises for our muscles, there are exercises for our psyche.

Christmas also tells us that giving is one of those exercises. And we are told it is the quality of the giver, not the quality of the gift, that matters. Widows' mites, not mighty wallets, are the foundations of lofty hearts.

It's an exercise that begins when we stop thinking of ourselves and start thinking of others. 

We're all aware of the axiom about keeping Christmas in our hearts 365 days a year. How? By keeping others in our hearts 365 days a year. It's by remembering that there will be people who are still cold come February and people who are still hungry come June. We remember that food banks, shelters and low-income energy pools exist not just in the days leading up to Christmas, but in all of the other months of the year as well.

At Christmas, we might smile and (assuming we have not been mentally destroyed by shopping crowds) let the car that's waiting to pull into traffic go ahead of us.

At Christmas, we might nod to people we do not know.

At Christmas, we might open a door for someone whose arms are full.

At Christmas, we might sit down and listen to a child.

At Christmas, we might make up the difference at the counter for someone who can't quite cover the cost of her items.

Certainly these simple, yuletide gestures are appreciated. But tonight, when all is calm and you have been blessed with a little quite time to think, consider that these quiet, but thoughtful acts are just as appreciated in March, July or October.

This is how to we keep Christmas in our hearts the year 'round. But it is more than that. It is how we live a good life, and how we can remain contented and at peace with ourselves, no matter what our lot in this world might be. And this is the wish we extend to all at this most glorious time of the year. That you might find that peace.

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