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As December dawned (two weeks ago) and we started getting endless reminders of “how many shopping days left for Christmas” and other assorted commercial messages, I stopped to reflect.

Whatever happened to the holiday messages of Peace. Of Love. Of Joy? Yes. Peace, Love and Joy. Remember those?

My moments of reflection took me back to my first holiday season in the United States in the mid 1980s. I was a graduate student sharing a ride from Virginia to Michigan, trying to connect with my only Uncle in the USA. On Christmas Eve, we were supposed to meet at a pre-defined location at a highway interchange in Ohio, where my fellow students were going to hand me over to my Uncle. We were then going to drive to his home in Michigan. My Uncle gave us specific instructions as to which hotel and what time we were supposed to rendezvous, to have a smooth exchange.

You can guess the rest. We spent at least an hour looking for that Holiday Inn which was supposed to be the drop off point. Neither one of us knew that it had been renamed to a different hotel. Remember, this was before the day of cell-phones. So, we had no choice but to go back – my Uncle, to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and me and my friends, to Cleveland, Ohio for the night. We reconnected over the phone, and made firmer plans for an early Christmas morning drop-off.

Yes, all went well on Christmas morning. We connected in Maumee, OH, and I made it to Ann Arbor in time for a late Christmas breakfast. I don’t know who was more excited – me, to see the family, or my two young cousins, who had been waiting patiently for me to arrive so they could all open their presents. Over twenty-five years later, I still remember the looks of pure Joy on their faces. And I thought that they were just that happy to see me 🙂

It was a beautiful holiday week – that first “real” Christmas with a family that celebrated family togetherness, community (yes, I attended a lot of holiday gatherings with my Uncle’s family). There was an unhurried sense of serenity to their celebrations, which communicated a sense of peace, love, and above all, Joy. It just seemed to envelope everything they did – that sense of Joy. I am grateful for those gifts – they taught me that we can create our own Joy when we honor family and community, celebrate with family and community. And those two cousins? They continue to celebrate with their now growing families, with Joy as the center-piece of all their family gatherings.

As I look back at that week, I am reminded that we don’t have to let our present challenges, big or small, take away our Joy. For true Joy lies beyond happiness, and the small (disappointment) or thrill of (not) receiving that trinket or two that we really wanted. It also reminds me that the magic of Joy can happen in our lives if we let it, be open to it. In every snowflake lies the potential to create magic…

So, let us resolve to keep Joy front and center, as the center-piece of our being. Let us resolve to spare a thought for those who may be in pain, or who may be grieving this season – listen to them a little bit longer, and share a piece of our Joy with them. For, in choosing to share is when we grow in heart, in spirit, and in Joy.

Kumud

P.S. This post was written for our weekly twitter conversation on Sunday mornings – Sunday, December 15th at 9am ET. Join us on twitter or at at http://chat.spiritchat.org as we discuss how to create and share Joy. Namaste!