I was listening to Christmas music the other day as I did my work around the house. One of my favourites is That’s Christmas To Me by Pentatonix. The lyrics describe things that make Christmas…well, Christmas, such as a fireplace shining, stockings by the tree, mistletoe.
After hearing it and singing along for the third time in a row (like I said, it’s a good-er), I asked myself, what is Christmas to me?
There’s no doubt about it, this Christmas is different. But just because it’s different, I don’t want to feel like I didn’t get Christmas this year. So, I need to know what Christmas is to me.
I love Christmas shopping with my mom. Busy malls. Christmas decorations in the stores. And while driving around the city in the dark, seeing all the Christmas lights hanging on the houses and apartment balconies. Although these are fond memories, this isn’t what Christmas really means to me.
Is it the decorations? The sweets? Baking in the kitchen? Preparing the Christmas meal? Eating the Christmas meal? The Christmas Eve Mass or church service? Is it family gatherings?
To me, a part of Christmas is the Christmas Eve Mass. Dressing up fancy and driving to church in the dark and cold. Then, entering the light and warmth of the church, singing Christmas hymns, and immersing myself in the Christmas story.
Another large part of Christmas is family gatherings. Having all my siblings, my in-laws, nieces and nephews in my parents’ house. 43 people total. Loud, crazy, beautiful.
But this year, it’s not happening. The church service. The gathering. Not happening.
Does this mean that Christmas isn’t happening?
I just can’t have that! You can’t deny me Christmas!
I thought about Viktor Frankl; a man who was denied so much, yet remained happy. He was a Jewish neurologist and psychiatrist that survived the Auschwitz concentration camp. In his book, A Man’s Search for Meaning, he wrote, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms-to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
If I’m being denied church service and family gatherings, if my freedoms are taken away, then maybe I can listen to what Mr. Frankl has to say: I always have one freedom left- my choice of attitude.
I had to dig deeper. What does Christmas really mean to me?
Upon further (self-) exploration, I discovered that some of the lyrics in the song by Pentatonix were accurate for me. Christmas to me is the "Christmas song in my heart”. It’s the joy and love that fills my heart. It’s my attitude.
It turns out that no one can deny me Christmas. No one can tell me I can’t have joy or love, or that my heart can’t sing.
Well, actually, there is one person that can deny me that…and that’s me.
This year, will I deny myself Christmas or will I give myself the gift of Christmas in my heart?
I’m sure it’s not going to be easy, but I know, I’m having Christmas this year.
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Here’s to conquering stress.
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