Will the Real Christmas Spirit please stand up?
Will the Real Christmas Spirit please stand up?

It’s begun. The festive lights, the peppermint mocha obsession, the brain numbing madness of shopping, trimming the tree and all that jazz. The ‘spirit of giving’ is the phrase of the season. The month of  the year when we feel good about being extra generous (the heady smell of holiday cookies and pine trees might have something to do with it), even if our wallets are extra empty after Black Friday. I’ve always wondered why it’s called ‘Black’ Friday, like it’s a terrible plague or scary apocalyptic event. Now I know why; there’s always a couple of people getting run over by a gang of strollers or pepper sprayed for a 42″ TV. Every year. Only in America. Back to the joyous parts of the holiday.

I get that Christmas is all about joy, tinsel and happy children. But it is more than just a fictional character called Santa with an ample belly who tries to squeeze down chimneys, delivering toys. It’s more than the tree, the elf on the shelf, insane Christmas light displays, and ugly reindeer sweaters. It’s more than just donating toys to the shelter, or volunteering at the soup kitchen. It’s even more than a baby in a manger, surrounded by kneeling figurines, farm animals and flitting angels. It’s about grace, redemption and second chances.

I’ll admit it, patience is not my middle name. Especially where my son is concerned. You’d think I’d have it down pat by now, considering after 4 years, I’d know how much a little boy can push you to the edge of your sanity. But no, somehow my son manages to find new ways of pushing me closer and closer to the brink. To the point where I get easily frazzled over juice spills on the carpet, the morning drama of getting ready for school or a just a trip to Target (I’ve never had a more agonizing experience). I found myself becoming the dragon lady- who couldn’t handle continuous squirming during a meal or a folded laundry load happily strewn all over the living room, without yelling at my son. It’s hard to be kind to him when I’m tired or when he’s pushed all my buttons. I didn’t like being short tempered and impatient all the time. So I decided to challenge myself; that I would show him grace because I love him, even when my head is about to explode with incessant arguing about why he has to wear underwear. To take every day, one moment at a time and not pop a vein over little things, like juice spills and play slime on the wall. Bounty and Windex do wonders. To give him lots of second chances, because everyone messes up (4 year olds and adults alike) and needs a do over. To remember to forgive him freely, because everyone has something they need forgiveness for. Even dragon lady moms.

At the core of it, that’s what the Christmas story is really all about. Two thousand years ago, a baby was born to bring redemption and give a second chance to a world that desperately needed it. ‘Giving’ is synonymous with Christmas- giving gifts to those we love and those we don’t (because of some morbid twist of fate that made you their Secret Santa). This season, let’s do more than just give a neatly wrapped gift or a donation to the Salvation Army Red Kettle and pat ourselves on the back. I challenge you to give undeserved grace to some one who has wronged you, a family member who has hurt you, a son/daughter who has chosen to take the wrong path in life. Maybe even yourself.. I dare you to offer forgiveness to some one who rightly deserves your anger, because THAT my friends, is the real spirit of Christmas. I find it apt that the movie ‘Unbroken’, the true story of Frank Zamperini, a story of courage, faith and freedom through forgiveness, is being released on December 25th. I couldn’t have thought of a more fitting movie for Christmas. Brava Angelina Jolie, brava.


‘Mercy is not getting what you deserve. And grace is getting what you absolutely don’t deserve. …… benign good will. unprovoked compassion. the unearnable gift.’  – Cathleen Faisani



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