Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear!

So, it's Christmas time. It's usually one of my favorite times of the year! This year though, I have been hard pressed to find my Christmas Spirit. I don't know where it went! And I hate when I can't find it - it totally ruins everything. Sure, life has been a little hectic and/or stressful, but that doesn't usually stop me. But I had come to terms with it. I quit trying. All of my favorite holiday movies are packed up in boxes somewhere, so I can't watch them. It's has not been particularly cold this year, so it doesn't feel or smell like Christmas. There aren't as many lights out this year, and when we went to Stone Mountain to see the lights there (like I have done MANY years in the past) it all of the sudden costs an extra $20 bucks to walk around the village! Bah-humbug! I'm to cheap for that! So, these are a few of the reasons why I haven't found my Christmas cheer.

Until last night.

I was going about it all wrong. I was focusing on me, and that's not what Christmas is all about. I went and delivered some packages to some friends. I love giving people gifts, and putting the thought and effort into picking out that perfect thing that they will really love or use. Some years I'm better at it than others, but it doesn't matter, I love trying! I love being around family and getting to see people who I haven't seen in a while, and hearing stories and sharing memories of those who aren't with us anymore. I love feeling the love and joy Christmas brings out in people. So, as I was driving home from delivering those packages and doing some late night shopping at Kohl's (thank goodness they were open until midnight!) a song came on the radio. It was a song that I loved as a kid and used to sing with my mom and brother all of the time. It's called "Do You Hear What I Hear." I wasn't really paying much attention, because I was so exhausted, but all of the sudden I started listening as this verse started playing:

Said the Shepard boy to the mighty king
Do you know what I know
In your palace wall mighty king
Do you know what I know
A child, a child
Shivers in the cold
Let us bring him silver and gold
Let us bring him silver and gold

This is when I got goosebumps. Then, the last verse played:

Said the king to the people everywhere
Listen to what I say
Pray for peace people everywhere
Listen to what I say
The child, the child
Sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light

And that might be when I started to tear up (I will neither confirm or deny that I actually started crying...) The realization that I had been so selfish and almost Scrooge-like hit me - hard. I had forgotten why Christmas is so beautiful, and how I have been given the best gift of all - the Savior in my life. And this is the time of year we get to celebrate Him, His wonderful life, and the people who had the faith to allow this wonderful miracle to come to pass! I had it all wrong. I'm not perfect - I let all the things in my life pile up and block out what really matters most - Jesus Christ.

I'm so grateful for this time of year, and the reminders we have all around us about what the holiday season is really about. They are there, we just have to look for them. I'm excited to celebrate with my mom's family later on today. I don't get to see them often enough, but it's always a blast when we get together! I know we will have a gift exchange, but we will also talk about the story of Christmas, and sing Christmas songs that allow us to focus on the Lord. I'm so grateful for that, and for what the Christmas Spirit really is all about.

I will leave you with a quote from the article The Best Christmas Ever, where President Thomas S. Monson, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, says (and quotes):

President David O. McKay (1873–1970) declared: “True happiness comes only by making others happy—the practical application of the Savior’s doctrine of losing one’s life to gain it. In short, the Christmas spirit is the Christ spirit, that makes our hearts glow in brotherly love and friendship and prompts us to kind deeds of service.

“It is the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ, obedience to which will bring ‘peace on earth,’ because it means—good will toward all men.”

Giving, not getting, brings to full bloom the Christmas spirit. Enemies are forgiven, friends remembered, and God obeyed. The spirit of Christmas illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than things. To catch the real meaning of the “spirit of Christmas,” we need only drop the last syllable, and it becomes the “Spirit of Christ.”



Cam and Mary said...

Thanks for the post. I can feel the Christmas spirit just from reading it! It was great to talk to you last night. Hope we can do it again soon! Merry Christmas!!!

Thompson Family said...

I love this post. Ashley I miss hearing all of your words of wisdom. Have very Christ filled Christmas. Come and visit us when you can.

Jenni said...

Merry Christmas, y'all! I am so glad that I found your blog! We went to the Emory Catholic Center last night with Mom and Mike and the sermon was about how we try too hard to make Christmas perfect, when in fact the first Christmas was far from perfect. I think that goes hand in hand with what you said. Thank you, Ashley!
love you! Jenni

katie kortman said...

I am reading this a little late, but I loved how candidly you spoke about your holiday feelings. It is so easy to lose sight of what Christmas is REALLY about (and I sometimes do). Nice post.