Looking For The Christmas Spirit

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WORDS BY BEN DUNGAN

Every year it happens. We look for the Christmas spirit. We search far and wide to feel the way we are supposed to feel. After all, Andy Williams does tell us, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

We want to believe that. More than anything. We long for roasted chestnuts. We yearn for open fires. We want Jack Frost nipping at our nose.

So what do we do? We hang lights. We put up decorations. We’d prefer snow, but we’ll settle for cold.

At the end of the day, all we want is for Christmas to feel like the Christmases we have felt in the past. All season long we search and search to find it. We play Nat King Cole and Johnny Mathis. We crank the Burl Ives and the Bing Crosby.

We focus so much on getting the Christmas table set. Then we wait. And wait. And hope that the Christmas spirit will magically serve itself up on a silver platter. You know, like it does in those Hallmark movies.

We do all the right things to get into the Christmas spirit. Yet, in our search for Christmas, we keep coming up short. Christmas reveals itself in many ways. And typically, not in the same way every year.

Maybe it’s found in the solitude like I found it on that Christmas Eve back in 2007. Or maybe it’s found around a Christmas Eve fire pit like I found it in 2016.

Or maybe like last year, hearing a choir of voices belting out “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” – off pitch and out of tune. But so full of gusto and spirit. That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.

Our lives are oftentimes off pitch and out of tune. Especially this time of year. That’s the beauty of Christmas – your life doesn’t have to be in pitch-perfect harmony to feel the Christmas spirit. You just have to be open to feel it when it comes your way.

Sometimes in our search for Christmas, we keep missing it. Some Christmases aren’t found. They find you. Or perhaps, they meet us where we are.

Makes me think of the American rock band, The Grateful Dead. You know what they say, nothing says “Merry Christmas” like the Grateful Dead.

But in 1970, they released an album called American Beauty. And it is a beauty, from start to finish. However, on this album, you can find my favorite Grateful Dead song of all time – “Box of Rain”.

It’s not hard to find. It’s the very first song on the album. There’s nothing Christmasy about the tune either. But earlier this year, a lyric from the song caught my attention. It jumped out through the speakers, grabbed me by the collar, and forced me to take a closer look.

Maybe you’ll find direction, around some corner where it’s been waiting to meet you.

Now I’ve listened to that song hundreds of times. I’ve never picked up on that line until this year. And like most things, once you see it, you can’t unsee it. It’s given the song a whole new meaning to me. It’s opened my eyes.

That’s Christmas. Waiting for us around some mundane corner of our life that we’ve walked by hundreds of times. But among the chaos and the busyness of the season, we never think about those mundane corners. But maybe, just maybe, that’s where Christmas is, right around the corner where it’s been waiting to meet us.

If a pearl of Christmas wisdom can be found in a Grateful Dead song, then the Christmas spirit can be found in places you can’t even imagine. You just have to keep your eyes and ears open.

There is Merry in the mundane. There is Christmas in the chaos. You’ll have your “That’s What Christmas Is All About, Charlie Brown” moment. If Charlie Brown can find it, so can we.