Are you a hopeless romantic? Caught up in the holiday season? If you are, you will understand that Christmas is a transformative holiday like no other. If you're not "into" the holiday – just can't get into the spirit, that's ok. Here's how to light the spark.

Sometimes we get caught up in a buying frenzy. When we do, we lose the magic of the season. And, no, you don't have to be a staunch Christian focused only on the magnificent story of God becoming man and being born in a manger who was visited by three wise men from the east who brought him exotic gifts.

In times when so many are out of work, losing their homes and desperately seeking solutions to economic challenges that seem to crop up one every 70-80 years, it can be difficult to think Christmas and all too easy to forget possibilities..

It's true that everywhere we turn from Thanksgiving until December 25th, we're inundated with messages that glorify buying the latest and greatest offerings of the season… Our email includes overwhelming numbers of coupons and special promotions. You know what I mean:  "Get 50% off"… "70% Discount Today Only"… "2-Day Holiday Special" …."Buy Now". And, the news is filled with reports of how profitable (or not) this year's sales are for stores and corporations across the land.

But, I'm much more interested in the traditions of Christmas…The stuff on which O'Henry's The Gift of the Magi was written. I'm talking about the story of a jolly old man traveling the world to give presents to good little boys and girls… a whole team of elves spending a busy year making gifts…These are the traditions that speak of real Christmas traditions created by people who give of themselves to create holidays that continue to live on throughout entire lifetimes and beyond:

The magic of Christmas that is to very thrilling to me includes: The crafters who work into the wee hours of the night to make handmade treasures for loved ones… housewives who concoct mouthwatering treats out of everyday ingredients for family and friends alike. and fathers who, when times are tough,  work tirelessly to rejuvenate an old bicycle.or build a doll house for their sons or daughters. 

When we were children we invariably woke up in the middle of the night and sat for hours beneath the Christmas tree waiting in wild anticipation for the adults to wake up so we could see what Santa brought. As adults we want to provide that same magical experience for our youngsters. This year, though, many will feel pangs of regret because it is simply impossible to do that.

If you are among those – or if you know anyone who has been out of work, or lost their homes or suffered a devastating setback, this is a holiday for you. If you're among those fortunate enough to have none of these challenges, this is a holiday for you, too.

Christmas, more than any other throughout the year, is a time that speaks of giving of ourselves.It's a time when families come together to share special moments..perhaps making tamales, potica, popcorn balls  or divinity fudge…or decorating the dinner table with pine cones and twigs from a fir tree…perhaps going out in small groups to sing Christmas carols. The presents wrapped in colored paper and set carefully under a decorated tree and the toys and the expensive gadgets will be outgrown. discarded and forgotten all too soon. But those treasures made by hand for another and those shared experiences of working together to make the day just a little bit more special will remain with us throughout our lives. 

We have one more week to capture some of that magic. Best of all, no one is so hard pressed that they can't find a way to give something of themselves. Spare us the big screen TVs and the mechanical robots that do everything but burp the baby…

I'm not saying don't give gifts. But please include among this year's presents something of yourself, even if it's just an hour or two of your time. And, don't forget those who are less fortunate…who may be spending the day alone.

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