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Have you ever thought
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Why do we seem to limit so much of the goodness of Christmas to a few weeks?

Drive around town and you will find many yards and houses all decorated for Christmas. And though the trend has been for less shoppers in the malls, those on line have more than made up for it as we rush to finish our Christmas shopping. There have been special concerts and services, programs and parades as we once again celebrate Christmas.

Christmas has even been mentioned in the presidential race. We have debated on whether coffee cups should communicate the holiday spirit or whether clerks should say, “Merry Christmas.” I hope we can get beyond the petty and deal with the real issue. How do we keep the Spirit of Christmas alive in the all the rush leading up to the 25th, and more importantly in the days and months that follow? The gift we were given that First Christmas is what it means in our world everyday not just the holidays.

Have you ever thought “how can we feel that same joy and peace in, say April or June as I do in December”? “How can one live with the spirit of Christmas all year long?”

For us who identify ourselves as Christians, the challenge of living at a “Christmas Level” all year is a real challenge. The first step may be for us in the few remaining days of this Christmas Season to lay the foundation for the coming years. There is still time to get on track for this Christmas.

Plan to attend a worship service on Christmas Eve or Day. Reach out to a family member or friend that you have not seen for a while, whether by personal visit or a call, share some time with them. Your caring will be a true present to them. Give a gift to someone less fortunate, there are many agencies or churches that you can do this through. Spend some quite time each day seeking Jesus to guide, strengthen, and protect you each day. Don’t let the all the “to do list” block out the peace and joy of the season.

Many will go to a great deal of effort to make contact with family and friends at Christmas and as I have said that is important. But why not use the eleven other months to reach out to others. Our friends and families are the most important people in our lives. Every day we can be with them is priceless. For some day it will be too late. Let us use the whole year to insure we are connected.

We spend a major part of our “free” time leading up to Christmas focusing on what others might want. We have spent countless hours in shopping to show our love for those important to us. Think with me for a moment if that could be our mindset all year. Spending our energy not to please ourselves but to please those we love. Even small acts of kindness and appreciation can make such a difference in the months that stretch away from December.

I had the Director of a Children’s Home tell me one time, “winter really comes hard to our home after Christmas. When the decorations come down and the gifts stop coming.” In the days before Christmas people seem more anxious to share, but after the day is over, it is too many times back to their everyday worlds.

Many of us have been a part of efforts to help the less fortunate during holiday season. And I am glad we have made the effort. But even more important is dealing with the needs of those being crushed with life all year long. There are those in our community that need a hand up. There are those facing the challenge of finding enough to eat, a place to sleep, an opportunity to work. We must not just focus on these in need for December but find ways to bring help all year. That is a major part of keeping the Christmas spirit all year long.

The key to “a year around Christmas spirit” is to care about others and not to be hesitant to express that care. All year long we need to great people with a smile and a blessing. Give yourself the gift of a yearlong Christmas by getting beyond yourself and truly caring for those who are a part of our lives.

B. Wiley Stephens is a retired United Methodist Minister and author who now resides in Covington.