Big and shiny, the Christmas of today doesn’t even resemble its humble origin. Every woman who’s ever been nine months pregnant understands how gruelling a task it must have been to ride on a donkey. Every person who’s familiar with the sights, the sounds and the smells of a barn, knows the story of a babe born in a manger is much more pleasant in the telling than the reality.
With nowhere to go, and nothing but faith, a man and a woman on the verge of becoming parents spend the night in a stable. Their lodging is lowly, even by the standards of the day. It offers no creature comforts, no luxuries, and no conveniences of any kind. What they do not have is an important part of the story. Today, lack of material possessions, in no way, defines who you are, or determines the purpose of your life.
The old Christmas song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”. December is full of long, clamorous days culminating in the wearied singing of Silent Night. Christmas Eve will find us lifting up our weary voices to sing, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.”
Christmas is for love. It is for joy, for giving and sharing, for laughter, for reuniting with family and friends, for tinsel and brightly decorated packages. It is for reconciliation and forgiveness.
I would like to offer ten tips on how to find joy during this Christmas and in life:
1. Choose to be happy
You can choose to be happy or sad. Two people met with an accident and were severely wounded. They did not choose to be in the accident. It happened to them. But one of them chose to live the experience in bitterness, the other in gratitude. These choices radically influenced their lives and the lives of their families and friends. We have very little control over what happens in our lives, but we have a lot of control over how we integrate and react to what happens to us.
2. Look out for miracles
Miracles are all round, if you look out for them. Sometimes the miracles around you are as simple as a bud bursting into bloom or the hatching of birds’ eggs outside your kitchen window. Taking time to see and appreciate the miraculous is guaranteed to bring a smile to your soul and hope to your heart. Isn’t it a miracle to open your eyes in the morning? To see the golden sun rise and hear the birds sing? Isn’t it a miracle to feel the golden breeze? And to see the wind dancing in the trees? According to Albert Einstein, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”