The Spirit of the Season

I was having a little trouble getting into the holiday spirit here at Our Little House. It didn’t have anything to do with feeling blue; I think there are just those years when the holidays sneak up on a person.

I got out my Christmas sweater and headed out to The Nutcracker with a friend in November. While the performance was awesome and the company good, it didn’t put me in the mood. I then put the lights out on our decks and put up the tree.

Not until this week did the spirit of the season really hit. I’m now ready to finish our limited shopping and get those cards addressed and in the mail.

What really put me in the mood was to read a couple of heart-warming stories that are examples of the true reason for the season (and a gift of holiday music sent by a Living Large reader helped too!)

One was a story about a man who had to give up his dog temporarily while he looked for a job and tried to get funds to get a place that would accept his 12-year-old companion.

The person not only volunteered to keep Sweet Pea the dog, but when the story went viral, people sent in money, someone offered the man a job and the hotel where he was staying allowed the man to keep Sweet Pea until he could make permanent housing arrangements.

The other was about a local soldier who signed up from Iraq to adopt a child through the local Christmas Wish program. When the soldier returned home, he delivered the child’s toys he had asked for personally.

It was enough to put the spirit right in me.

When I head out to Christmas parties in the next few days, I will be wearing my Christmas sweaters, but more importantly, the spirit will also be alive inside.

How do you get into the spirit of the holiday season?

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30 Responses

  1. sarah henry says:

    I’m never ready for the holidays, they always sneak up on me. Stories like these get me in the spirit, as does time away from work with family and friends just enjoying each other’s company.

  2. Olivia says:

    I hope this comment is not taken as a criticism by anyone but I sometimes wonder why non-religious people even bother to celebrate Christmas, which is, essentially, a Christian celebration. Obviously it has morphed, somehow, into “the holiday season” or, increasingly, “Consumermas.”

    If this is what people want I wonder why they don’t schedule it for a different time of year – say, when the weather is warmer and winter storms and exorbitantly high travel costs don’t impede getting about.

    I have no criticism of anyone who does not profess Christian – or any other religious – beliefs because I believe we are all free to make up our own minds but I wonder why people co-opt a religious celebration, turn it into something else and then complain bitterly about it?

    • Kerri says:

      I understand what you’re saying, Olivia, about the consumerism. However, given the history of Christmas, which was, in fact, once a pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice and was adopted by the Church and made into a religious celebration because it was then considered very evil to celebrate secular holidays, non-religious people could really claim (and sometimes do) that the holiday was highjacked by religion. History tells us that Jesus was most likely born in the spring, given what we know from the descriptions of shepherds moving flocks, etc. I do not think it is only non-Christians who forget the very meaning of the holiday, which is to give of oneself, not to out do each other in presents. I view Christmas as more of a cultural celebration now, especially in the U.S. I have friends of many religious backgrounds who celebrate the spirt of Christmas by giving and reaching out to others. It is a holiday impossible to escape and I see nothing wrong with people celebrating the spirit. Some people I know of who do not observe it as a religious celebration, volunteer to work on the 24th & 25th if they have jobs that requires working on holidays, as a way to join in the celebration with them. As well, it is a tradition for many folks, whether they’ve chosen Christianity or not as their path.

      • Olivia says:

        I agree that the birth of Jesus probably did happen in the spring (even the Church will now agree to that: originally they dated it Dec. 25, or Jan. 6, depending on the western/eastern tradition, calculating it by the date of birth of John the Baptist and the date when Zechariah received the news of such and so on. This is difficult to do when you are dealing with both the Julian and Hebrew calendars among other things. It wasn’t a case of trying to co-opt a pagan festival) and that what we are celebrating is a jumble of pagan, secular and religious traditions.

        Nevertheless, I fail to understand why people feel obligated to celebrate Christmas, Winter Solstice, Kwaanza, or anything else if they do not want to and then complain bitterly about it. There is an ad on TV where a couple is complaining about paying high interest fees and a bystander says to them, “If you want to stop paying high interest fees, then stop paying high interest fees.” That is how I feel about all the grinches out there – if you don’t want to celebrate (any of the above) then don’t celebrate any of the above. Make up your own tradition and celebrate that – or don’t. Whatever. Just stop complaining.

  3. Merr says:

    Your posts and the links within remind me that it, is, in fact, getting out of my head, and getting busy, reaching out to others, is what will make any season (including this one) better. There is definitely a time to focus on self, but that is different than ruminating, etc. Thanks for the post!

  4. Jane Boursaw says:

    Yeah, this time of year can be interesting emotionally. I always love watching Christmas movies – they usually seem to get me in the spirit of the season.

  5. I’m with Sheryl, the holidays have creeped up on my this year. It’s awful, but we still haven’t even put up our tree. Today is the day tho!

    Christmas Eve we’re celebrating with many of our close friends and I’m really, really looking forward to it. Lots of good food, conversation and singing Christmas carols (I’m the pianist, love it).

  6. NoPotCooking says:

    Music helps me. Baking does too. Although this year I am just feeling tired.

  7. Alexandra says:

    Writing blog posts about how our community is celebrating (to answer your question).

  8. Sheryl says:

    The holidays really snuck up this year…maybe since the weather (at least here) has been relatively mild, except for the freak Halloween snowstorm. But sine I don’t celebrate Christmas, I always seem to feel a bit disconnected from the whole merry season thing, anyway.

  9. Becky W says:

    Although my friend and I have exchanged gifts for years now,this year we are giving each other dog and cat food to donate to Meals On Wheels. We don’t need it and our pets are covered so this feels best of all. Merry Christmas!!

  10. We haven’t strung a single decoration or made a single cookie yet. I did go to one party early in the month, but that’s it so far. My very limited shopping is gone, but I finished that right before going to a friend’s memorial, so … I’ve been listening to some of the holiday stations on Pandora, and I hope to make some cookies this weekend. We’ll see. Maybe the mood will build as I wrap up December deadlines and take some real time “off.”

  11. Darath Smith says:

    I am so glad that my little story helped you and the world find the meaning of Christmas spirit. Thank you for sharing their story and I hope you and yours have a great holiday!

  12. mat says:

    I haven’t been a huge fan of Christmas for about 10 years now. Despite growing up Jewish, my mother married a Catholic and we celebrated Christmas too. Best of both worlds, I used to say. Now…I say, “it’s not MY holiday”. Those first few years when my wife and I were just starting out, those were still meaningful, exciting Christmases.
    I was laid off (fired, really) for the first time in 2003 (at age 23) and it was difficult for me to reconcile what I could not buy vs. the incessant commercialism telling me what a useless person I was for not getting my wife jewelry or a steak or a Lexus…and I haven’t ever looked at the holidays the same way since. It’s also entirely possible that I’m no longer a “BUY THIS!” sheep–the kind of person advertisers hate anyway.
    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the endless get-togethers, the eggnog, or the feasting, but that’s all it is for me. Even with the birth of my son, I don’t really get worked up about him waking up Christmas morning and descending upon a bunch of gifts. Maybe because he isn’t worked up about it.
    But my wife is excited. About a week ago, we got our tree, she baked up three batches of cookies, and listened to 10 hours of Christmas songs. I’m okay to just smile and nod.

    • Kerri says:

      Mat, I think our view of the holidays changes over the years. The spirit of the season isn’t about getting gifts or giving them, really, to my friends and loved ones (although I do enjoy that). It is about doing for or giving to someone or some animal that wouldn’t otherwise have food or shelter. The commercialism aside, if the holiday and the season inspires someone to give, that’s what it’s all about.

  13. We had a houseful of people at Thanksgiving, so I was not ready to rush headlong into Christmas. I felt like I needed to catch my breath before starting the whole Christmas thing. But, eventually the music, the decorations in our small town and getting Christmas cards from friends and family nudged me into the season. I got the tree up just this week and put lights and evergreen garlands throughout the house. Now I only have a little shopping to finish and will be set! Both of our daughters will be home for the holiday this year, so that is the most special gift of all for me!

  14. Thanks for sharing these stories, they are inspiring. I usually get into the Christmas spirit when I’m decorating and baking. I think I would enjoy Christmas a lot more if it wasn’t for the gifts. I hate shopping and especially deciding what to get others like me that have everything we need and pretty much everything we really want. Repeating that process every December gets old.

    Giving to those in need though is a completely different story and is something that feels much more meaningful.