I find the days leading up to Christmas are always a good time for self-reflection.
I’m not talking about a time for inward-looking that causes you to re-evaluate your goals and life choices. Rather I find it’s a perfect opportunity to assess what’s really important to you.
We get so caught up in the hustle and bustle associated with the countdown to Christmas that often people overlook the intangibles this time of year brings.
As we walk through crowded stores and malls in search of another gift to check off our list, the underlying goal is simply to put a smile on the faces of people we care about.
Whether it’s our spouse, our children, our parents, our relatives or our friends, too often the bigger the smile is associated with the gift. That’s a myth conjured up by consumerism and marketers.
In fact, it really has nothing to do with that at all.
Think about it.
I, for one, get a smile simply when a Christmas card arrives in the mail from a brother or sister far away. There’s no gift, nothing attached. Just a simple reminder that they’re thinking of you.
I’ll admit I’m slow at sending out birthday greetings or congratulatory notes but sending Christmas cards is still one of those little things I try to accomplish. It’s getting harder to do every year when you can simply hit send on an email. But I believe it’s well worth the effort.
I know I smile and think of that person when one arrives in the mail and I’m sure it’s the same at the other end.
That’s the type of little things that add to the joy of Christmas.
To me, perhaps because I’m getting older, the highlight of the season is to get away from all-things work related, spend time with those close to you, watch the faces of little ones light up, and relish those sweet times we get to spend with loved ones for the simple purpose of being together to share a happy occasion.
Which brings me to a couple of items that were in the Trail Times this week.
The first was a commentary on how to address the Santa Claus question with your kids.
It encouraged parents to let their children figure things out for themselves.
But the line that struck me was a simple one.
“Believing in impossible beings such as Santa is a special kind of magic available only to children.”
Truer words were never spoken.
The innocence of childhood and the power to believe in whatever you wish is something we lose all too quickly. And it’s something to cherish and nurture.
Any parent can tell you some of the biggest smiles for them, despite the materialistic tantrums some kids may have when it comes to toys (they’re kids afterall), are when their children get caught up in the magic of Christmas.
They believe Santa is watching. They believe being good has its rewards. They know the difference between naughty and nice.
Not a bad way to live your life year round when you think about it.
Children provide much of the energy around Christmas. Whether it’s the anticipation leading up to Christmas, with stockings hung, treats left out for Santa, or Christmas morning when children leap out of bed eagerly waiting for the day to begin.
Thinking back to my daughter’s younger days and even my own youth, Christmas Eve and Christmas morning are some of my favorite memories. And they remain that way today.
Of course, unwrapping gifts is a lot of fun but as I grew older I came to realize it was those lingering moments where everyone just sits around in their pajamas in the morning and soaking up the early hours.
The clock ticks away but time is sorta frozen in our cocoon of warmth, joy and love.
For that one morning, time feels like it’s standing still.
Kids are still kids, parents are still parents but everything revolves around that living room scene by the tree with coffee, fruit, breakfast and a lasting “together” moment.
It doesn’t really matter if you have children or not, part of a big family or not, just soaking up that moment you can share with others that are important in your life, regardless of what is going on outside of those four walls, is the greatest gift on Christmas morning.
Which brings me to the second thing in the Trail Times this week, the editorial cartoon right above this column.
I believe it says it all.
We can add all the fluff we want. We can buy all the stuff we want. But when it comes down to it, if you have loved ones around at Christmas time you already have more than enough.
Enjoy this time with your loved ones.
Guy Bertrand is the managing editor of the Trail Times