We put the tree up a few days after Thanksgiving like most years. It is a tight fit in this little casa we moved to a few months ago. Darlene decorated the tree and got all of the Santa Claus’s and other decorations out of the storage containers and placed them around the house. It all looks festive – in tune with the season. The reds and greens and lights and bearded dolls make me smile as I walk around the house.

I see more smiles and get a sense of more joy in others at Christmas time. I like it – like it a lot. There is more giving at Christmas – Christmas presents of course – the anticipation in small children is obvious and a delight as I see them romp around the stores – parents trying to keep them in tow. There is more generosity for good causes also – the non-profits who serve us in so many good ways are thankful for this time of year. Giving benefits those who receive the outpouring of goodwill. We know giving benefits the giver also – maybe more.

I long to see family and have them around at Christmas. It is a special time for families with the gift giving and the meals together and the sharing of the joy. We’re headed to Grand Junction, CO for Christmas weekend. We have two of our children and seven of our grandchildren who live there or who are visiting that weekend. I’m really excited about being with so many of them this year. Our oldest granddaughter is cooking Christmas dinner for us all – that’s pretty special. It is a time of many changes in our family. Some of us have moved this last year – Aaron and family moved east to Vermont – Darlene and I the opposite direction to New Mexico – 3 of the grandchildren are out on their own now with jobs and their own places. Being together in the same place gets a little harder as they all grow up – at the same time maybe the times being together seem a little sweeter.

Christmas has never been a primarily religious holiday in our family. Celebration of Jesus birth is not a component of the liturgy of the churches we’ve been part of over the years. I love the idea that thoughts of so many turn to Jesus and his birth. The extra measure of joy that is felt; the willingness to give and share; the desires for peace; the warmth of feelings for others that are all a part of this time that is Christmas are representative of the life that is recorded about Jesus. Those things are all a part of what is taught and emphasized because of Jesus in the church I’m part of and in many Christian churches. Whatever one’s religion or non-religion I hope that the joy and the goodwill that I feel are both welcomed and infectious. It would be a shame if someone was put off by those good things because of me trying to shove Jesus on them as part of it all. I’m not very bashful about preaching the goodness of faith in Jesus when given the opportunity. But for me, that is not the purpose of celebrating Christmas. Christmas can be a time when all people feel the good that comes from giving. It would be gracious plenty if it can be a time of peace and goodwill towards men that is shared by all peoples just because that’s the best way for treating each other and because that’s the best way for things to be.

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