By Diane Holloway
The joyful season that is Christmas can be seen, heard and smelled for weeks. We seem to be happier, more generous and more loving this time of year, don’t we? For many of us, it really is the most wonderful time of the year. Like a lot of people, I love decorating, cooking and entertaining. I even love shopping for gifts large and small and wrapping them with artistic flourishes that don’t exist the rest of the year.
Forgotten people are suddenly remembered as our hearts open wider. If we see someone huddled against the cold, we’re more likely to show kindness. I have friends who keep socks, roll-up blankets and knit gloves in their cars from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day. Twice last week I saw people coming out of Starbucks go back inside and buy extra coffees for neighbors who clearly needed some warmth.
This time of the year, we think about people who don’t have beautifully decorated homes, full bellies or presents under the tree. We mourn and pray for them. It’s magical the way blessings become more abundant and our ability to see need and suffering becomes sharper.
As wonderful as this time of the year can be, it always makes me yearn for a Christmas season that lasts all year long. In the doldrums of summer, when heatwaves rise up off the pavement, wouldn’t it be wonderful to feel the swell of love and generosity we felt in December? When we take down the lights and decorations, do we really need to take down our holiday spirit? What if we didn’t?
A few years ago I decided to leave one decoration out as a reminder to myself that loving our neighbors is a year-round season. On New Year’s Day, when the ornaments come off our tree, a small silver bell will move to a cabinet top in the den. When I see it — and sometimes when I can’t resist jingling it — I remember.
May we all celebrate this joyful season, and may we all keep love and generosity flowing throughout the year. Merry Christmas, everybody!