Perspectives: Helping the Christmas spirit find us

OPINION – Maybe times are tougher this year. Or maybe social media just makes it easier to put our hearts out there for others to see.

Either way, it’s been mildly surprising this year to see how many friends and acquaintances have expressed difficulty in finding the Christmas spirit. Most of those who’ve voiced their concern seem to be genuinely expressing puzzlement rather than simply indulging in self pity.

I’ve been in their shoes before and can appreciate what it feels like to be disconnected from a celebration that everyone else appears to be enjoying. A person doesn’t have to be drowning in despair to recognize that he or she is missing something important.

Instead of chasing after the Christmas spirit in the hopes of catching it before the celebration ends, I recommend a slightly different approach to regaining the hope, wonder, and joy of the season. Let it find us instead.

This doesn’t require a wholesale overhaul of who we are or what we believe. It does require a minor adjustment in how we choose to appreciate the world around us.

One suggestion for helping the Christmas spirit find us is to focus on family.

For many of us, our early memories of Christmas are among the most cherished. As children, we tended to hyperfocus on the tree, the lights, the presents, and the seemingly endless treats. That’s understandable. But at some point, we come to realize that the trappings are not the true substance of what we’re celebrating.

As I watch my family grow, I’m finding that our time spent together is becoming more and more precious. Whether we’re watching a movie, taking a walk, listening to Christmas music, building gingerbread houses, or creating personalized Christmas ornaments, the fact that we’re doing it together brings Christmas alive.

Family traditions have played a strong role in how we celebrate Christmas. Some have been passed down through the generations to become an integral part of our holidays. For instance, homemade pizza on Christmas Eve was a favorite treat that my mother cooked for us every year when I was growing up.

My family has continued this tradition and added some of our own. Even simple traditions can create stronger family bonds. Loving others and being loved in return adds depth and meaning to the holidays.

The Christmas spirit also tends to find us when we focus on appreciating the good in others. There is far more goodness around us than we are led to believe. A person who makes the conscious effort to look for it will be astonished at the many acts of selflessness that surround them.

The few sad individuals who live to spread unhappiness are generally loud relative to their numbers. On the other hand, the people who live to uplift and improve the lives of those around them aren’t typically attention-seekers.

Often, their acts of kindness and selflessness are deliberately done out of the spotlight. This means that, outside of those they are helping, a bystander would have to be paying close attention to ever notice their kindness.

For example, Dr. Jim Hughes is a dentist in Southern Idaho. My mother worked for him as a secretary for many years. When my father passed away 25 years ago, Dr. Hughes kindly gave my mother a generous Christmas bonus each year thereafter.

Even though my mother has been retired for 15 years, this truly great man quietly continues to pay her a yearly Christmas bonus. I’m certain that she is not the only recipient of his generosity.

For me, it is impossible not to be moved by this man’s example of selfless regard for others. Each year as my mother expresses her gratitude for the goodness of Dr. Hughes, I feel the Christmas spirit in its truest sense. His influence has impacted my children as well.

A few years ago, my daughter Brooke was determined to help other families in need. As a 14-year-old, she worked and saved up $100 of her own money and then took it to the bishop of our congregation and asked him to make sure it got to a family that needed help.

I understood the tears in his eyes as he accepted her gift and promised her that it would be used to help others. Her example was a beautiful reminder to me of the joy we invite into our lives by giving of ourselves.

We should be especially aware of opportunities to include those whose families are far away or who are estranged from their loved ones in our Christmas festivities. Hearts that are weighed down can be lightened by knowing that we genuinely care about them and their happiness.

Whenever we are willing to share the Spirit of Christmas with others, it always manages to find us as well.

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Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and opinion writer in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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14 Comments

  • Big Guy December 22, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Great thoughts. Thanks for this message.

  • ICALLRaiseYa December 22, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    Let me add ‘Here Here’ to BIG GUY’s comment.
    Let us search out for someone to put a smile on a face that needs it.

  • Karen December 22, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    Great article! Nice perspective.

  • Native born New Mexican December 22, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Good comments! enjoying family and friends while we have them is a big deal! When my sister and I visited my very elderly, widowed father this fall he said sadly “Things sure have changed.” Sis and I have many happy memories of times when the family was large and all together but that is long in the past. I think it is also important that we can look back with happiness and not with regret. What happens today will be tomorrow’s memory for the rest of your life. Make it a happy one!

    • ICALLRaiseYa December 22, 2014 at 4:06 pm

      good comment New Mexican Native

  • ladybugavenger December 22, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    Thank you Jesus! As my family watched others enjoy holidays as were battling (divorce, financial losses, bad health, drug addiction, and everything else the devil through at us ) for 20 years. This year is the best Christmas we ever had as a family. Finally, peace at last….I have not forgotten the despair of the other Christmas’ and the 20 yrs of chaos. It was lonely, so take a moment and care to make a difference in someones life. Thank you Jesus! God bless you all.

    • Koolaid December 23, 2014 at 11:22 am

      A modern day Christmas Carol?

      • ladybugavenger December 23, 2014 at 12:05 pm

        … a country Christmas carol

    • Joe Smith December 23, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      Has LBA been enjoying a little extra drink this holiday season?

  • Evil twins mommy December 22, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    Great article well written happy holidays ladybug

  • Joe Smith December 23, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    “she worked and saved up $100 of her own money and then took it to the bishop of our congregation”

    Since when is it called a congregation? I thought it was called a ward? Xmas spirit or no, I still think perspectives guy is a blithering idiot and waste of space. …

    • Koolaid December 24, 2014 at 1:45 am

      That was throwing money away. There are many charitable and worthy organizations (i.e. Salvation Army). Gotta agree with you on the blithering comment…. “with tears in his eyes, he accepted her ” Let’s hope he didn’t pass it on to Bundy types, cause it might have gone for guns and ammo.

      • Dana December 24, 2014 at 5:26 am

        Ditto. Probably went for a down payment on his wife’s implants.

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