It’s taken me a while, but I am truly feeling the Christmas spirit. I’m going to spend much of the holiday with my family, and the good news is we all get along great. We’re not planning huge gift exchanges, just a chance to spend time together.
I’ve become aware lately that Christmas can be an especially stressful time for many people. I have friends and family members who have communicated to me that this season is the most difficult time of the year for them.
So, in the spirit of being even-handed, I thought I’d list some of the things I like most about Christmas 2009 and then also list some of the concerns that others have passed on to me. Please feel free to add your own thoughts — both blessings and burdens for this season.
- Any time that is spent talking and thinking about the Savior is calming and reassuring. My youngest kids are seeing movies/Church shows about Jesus, and His birth is a constant features of Family Home Evening. His spirit seems to permeate our house, which is a great thing.
- The weather in Colorado, where I live, has been incredible. We have gotten a lot of snow, and there is more on the way, just in time for Christmas. A white Christmas indeed.
- Our ward has been doing a lot of work for the needy. The young men and young women have been very active, as has the Relief Society. I have participated in a lot more charitable acts than usual.
- This Christmas I will see a lot of family members. I am struck by how well we all get along. We have really been able to avoid contention, which can sometimes plague family events.
- I am grateful to be alive in 2009. I love all of the technology of our day. One small example: I just connected via Facebook to a guy who was my best friend in my youth. I hadn’t heard from him in many years, and this wonderful technology allowed us to “get together.”
- I am grateful for being able to fly around the country and the world in a few hours. I love all of the global interchange that we now have. It creates incredible opportunities for getting to know different cultures and finding areas of mutual benefit, both in business and on a social level, and of course in terms of spreading the Gospel.
- I am grateful to live in a country where I can practice my religion as I please and where I have a tremendous amount of freedom. I am always reminded of this at Christmas time.
AND ON THE OTHER HAND…
- It’s worth remembering that for many people the holidays can be incredibly stressful.
- For many widows and others who have lost family members, this is a time of remembering the cheery times of the past. We should be sensitive about their loss and reach out to them with support.
- Single mothers and fathers are under a lot of pressure to create the “picture perfect” Christmas. I think a lot of them feel guilt and stress this time of year because they can’t live up to expectations.
- Let’s not forget that unemployment is still at 10 percent, and there are a huge amount of people struggling with feelings of inadequacy because they cannot provide for their families. Christmas is especially difficult because neighbors are buying new stuff and those who are struggling cannot.
- Many people feel there are simply not enough hours in the day to do all of the things expected of them. Shopping for family members, baking cookies, sending out Christmas cards, buying a tree, setting up lights — the whole drill can cause a lot of unhappiness.
So, it really is the best of times and the worst of times. I hope we can be sensitive to those who are struggling while at the same time concentrating on the “reason for the season.”
Merry Christmas to all!