What is the Christmas Spirit? It is a hard thing to quantify. We have all felt it and can recognize it, but how do you explain it to someone? It is something that can be known only by experience It is partly peace and joy. It is an increased sense of generosity and kindness. It embodies excitement, innocence and awe. The Christmas spirit focuses us away from ourselves, towards others. It is trying to be like Jesus while feeling gratitude for the miracle of the atonement. At this time of year we get a glimpse of the love Jesus Christ has for us and our fellow men. You know you have found it when you feel the Holy Ghost, expanding your soul and filling your heart with peace. So how do we find the gift of a true Christmas spirit?
It isn't traditions and decorations. These things are meant to help wrap the Christmas Spirit, not replace it. Traditions are an important part of our Christmas celebrations. They help us connect to our families, our past, and our communities. Just remember traditions and activities are not the Christmas Spirit, but tools to help us welcome the True Spirit into our homes.
When choosing which traditions to start, or continue, keep in mind the advice of Dallin H Oaks in general conference, “Some uses of individual and family time are better, and others are best. We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.” Those are excellent qualifiers to the worth of our Christmas traditions. Do they strengthen our families or our faith? “That is just what we have always done,” is not the best excuse to keep tradition alive.
Decorations can also help focus us to the Christmas Spirit. Mankind forgets so easily. A constant visual reminder of Christmas can help remind us of the spirit of Christmas. Decorations don’t have to be extraordinary or expensive to serve that purpose.
Be careful that, like a 1 year old on Christmas morning, you don't become so distracted by the "wrapping paper" that you overlook the gift inside. Allow traditions and decorations to invite the Christmas spirit in our homes, no to stand in the way of it!
The Christmas Spirit can be found in simple ways. One of the easiest ways to find the true spirit of Christmas is through small acts of kindness. As the busy world gets in our way, it is easy to get frustrated and grouchy. A small change in attitude can make a world of difference. The next time you are waiting in a check out line (you know, the one that never seems to move), try taking a deep breath, smiling and sincerely offering the checker a good day. Their spirits will be lifted, and so will yours. It doesn’t take much to find the Christmas spirit when you try small acts of kindness. This is true in our homes as well. A smile instead if frown, a hug and encouraging word. These small, ordinary things hold the Christmas spirit in them.
The Christmas Spirit can be found while worshipping the Savior. It is funny how we can get so swept up in “celebrating Christ’s birth” that we forget to take time to worship Him. Is it the Spirit of Christmas that keeps us from family and personal prayer, family home evening, or scripture study? As President Howard W. Hunter once advised, “If you desire to find the true spirit of Christmas and partake of the sweetness of it, let me make this suggestion to you. During the hurry of the festive occasion of this Christmas season, find time to turn your heart to God. Perhaps in the quiet hours, and in a quiet place, and on your knees—alone or with loved ones—give thanks for the good things that have come to you, and ask that His Spirit might dwell in you as you earnestly strive to serve Him and keep His commandments. He will take you by the hand and His promises will be kept.”
If everything you are doing is getting in the way of focusing on Christ, perhaps you are too focused on the outer wrappings of Christmas. If you feel devoid of the Christmas spirit and a little hum-buggy, maybe you have forgotten to look in the ordinary, simple places for the Christmas Spirit. I pray we can all feel the Spirit of Christmas throughout this season.
This is an adaptation of a talk I was supposed to give in Church last year. Snow cancelled church that day, but I thought I should put all the work to some good. Hope that explains the "preachiness" in the post, since it technically began as a sermon of sorts.