I asked my daughter what it means to have the Christmas Spirit and she said, "I think its more of a Holiday Spirit that begins with Thanksgiving and rolls into Christmas and ends with a brand new year beginning; which is exciting." I agree that is part of the "Christmas spirit" but I actually feel my whole way of seeing and thinking becomes more spiritually centered. I experience this peaceful internal shift the moment I begin planning my Thanksgiving menu. Then once I begin to listen my Christmas CD's as I unbox all the decorations and decorate the house I'm thinking more about God. I think about what Jesus asked us: to love one another. I think about how Buddha showed us how to end our suffering by considering our delusions and freeing ourselves of attachments. I wondered do I have to live in a decorated home all year to keep this focus?!? Maybe, but, of course, I won't. Then I think about the spirit of now: I will express my love during the season for those who I love and how I won't stress about gifts. I usually buy something purposeful and thoughtful for my family members; I make mental notes through the year of things they say they like or need. Many times I just spend special time with family or friends I love; no gifts to unwrap but a sweet memory to keep. Money is never plentiful for the people I love the most so giving anything isn't possible. Before anyone feels even a tiny bit of discomfort, due to their inability to exchange gifts, it is important to pick up the phone and make holiday time with someone as simple as sharing time. We sip tea or drink wine, have lunch or supper at one of our homes; together. If anyone you love is far away its easy and thoughtful to pick up the phone and share a few laughs and catch up with someone. I truly believe we should bask in the love and comfort and blessings of our relationships and then the Christmas Spirit is defined perfectly...and can continue through the year. Hmm, maybe I don't have to keep decorations up all year (That would be really tacky anyway, lol, but I've seen people do it!!) I only have to live in love, and think each time I consider a friend or someone in my family that God and this spirit is alive--I just need to mindfully focus on how I express love all year. Happy Holidays and I'm sending my sincere wishes for the most love-filled healthy and satisfying New Year for each of you!