One year I lost my Christmas Spirit. My propensity to love everything Christmas is an inherited trait from my mother – a woman who especially loved the gifts she received! But as Alzheimer’s stole her piece-by-piece, it was both inevitable and grievous that she lost her Christmas spunk. I developed a Christmas malaise the year I realized I had lost my partner in celebrating Christmas cheer and commercialism. My mother did not suffer any shame or unnecessary anguish about her love for Christmas somehow competing with her faith. At Christmas, more was more and that was A-OK. During that spiritual malaise, I was doing what I do and reading the scriptures on a fairly regular basis. One day I came across that strange story in Genesis (18) where the Lord AGAIN promises Abraham and Sarah a son. Sarah scoffs at this suggestion as she is now old and resigned to her barren state. When the Lord asks her why she laughed, Sarah lies and says, “I didn’t laugh.” In Russ Ramsey’s book entitled Behold the Lamb of God, he suggests that Sarah’s laugh was “the laugh of turning away.” (p.33) He reminds us that in Genesis 21:6-7 the Lord didn’t permit Sarah to stay stuck in her funk. The birth of Isaac ushered in a season of love and joy but it was preceded by decades of longing and confusion. This story made me think about my own empty heart and Scroogey attitude. I was suddenly more curious than apathetic; I considered the possibility that God would not sanction my indulgence of self-pity any more than he had allowed it in Sarah. Maybe, I thought, the time will come when I will experience a return of joy. Where are you this holiday season? My mother’s death and the birth of our grandson has caused a seismic shift in my own Christmas Spirit. I like to think that my mother has passed away but not without leaving me a double portion of gratitude for the Christmas season and all it represents. Soon we will celebrate the birth of Jesus. I am a fan of making a big splash with lots of lights and tinsel. Babies are worth going all out for in celebration and the birth of Jesus certainly is a celebration. So here’s my advice to you – don’t let anyone shame you this holiday season with Grinchy ideas about how spiritual people SHOULD celebrate. Instead, go all out! Decorate! Bake cookies. Don’t allow the Lifetime Movie Network to be the only place where people dare to believe in love and miracles and the power of hot cocoa and cookies to restore a thirsty soul. God has always shown up in mysterious ways – let’s allow his spirit of joy to permeate our festivities!!