Every year, I feel like I beat myself up a little for not "celebrating" Christmas to the level that it should be celebrated. By that, I mean that I don't always think that I do enough stereotypical Christmas activities. I never watch all of the holiday movies that I want to watch. I never drive around and look at enough lights. I never listen to an expected amount of Christmas music. I only drink one hot chocolate a week instead of five. So on, and so forth.
While these are all fun and important activities, I'm realizing more and more that they aren't what is truly representative of a "successful" Christmas season. Sure, it's fun to wear ugly sweaters and sing Jingle Bell Rock three times a day for twenty-five days in a row, but ultimately, these things don't bring the desired Christmas spirit on their own. The older I get, the more I understand that true Christmas euphoria comes from one thing, and one thing alone...the LOVE that is so genuinely given and accepted during this time of the year.
Last night, I was able to witness the pure joy on Dina's face as she opened some of the Christmas presents that the church and others in the community donated to her and her mom. Seeing a smile on any kid's face at Christmas time is infectious, but Dina's excitement came from such an honest and thankful place that everyone in the room had tears in their eyes at one point. I have so many adorable pictures of her, and I wish I could share them with you. Her eyes practically popped out of her head when she opened up a little pink sewing machine, and when we blindfolded her and led her to her new bicycle on the back porch, she let out a scream so loud that I'm surprised no one in our condo complex called 9-1-1. After witnessing that, I decided that if Christmas were to end right here and now, I would be okay with it because my heart is full...more full than it has been in a long time.
I know that as I go home to be with my family this week, it will only continue to become more full. As we are quickly approaching Christmas Day, I won't be rushing to make sure that I eat enough goodies (that could end badly), or appreciate enough red and green decorations. Instead, I will be focusing on basking in the Christmas spirit that is so naturally floating around in the air. It's so easy to sense once you stop searching for it so hard.
It's definitely okay to wear a tacky sweater while you're looking for it though.