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It’s unusual for me to be in the Christmas spirit this early in the season. In fact, if you were following the Journal this time last year, you might recall that I didn’t even post anything about Christmas until January. I was so busy trying to skip it that I almost succeeded. It’s something I’ve attempted for the past 12 years, and it wasn’t until this year that I finally came to my senses. {Wait a minute…I love Christmas!}

So, instead of waiting until the last minute {i.e. Christmas Eve} for the joy of the season to suddenly kick in, I’m jumping in {Christmas music and all} sooner than ever to get the most out of a much-loved holiday I’ve robbed myself of enjoying for way too long.

Somewhere along the way {and I could pretend that I can’t pinpoint when}, I started bemoaning the season…wishing I could somehow avoid it altogether if I could just figure out how. {Pretending was pretty prevalent in my life then…} So, instead of dreaming of a white Christmas {rockin’ around the tree with chestnuts roasting on an open fire}, all I wanted was the warmth and solitude of a deserted island.

It wasn’t really that hard to find others to commiserate with me, either. Sounds terrible, I know, but it didn’t take much for our disillusionment to deteriorate into a warped version of holiday “cheer.” Greeting each other with facetious “Fa-La-Las & Ho-Ho-Hos,” followed by caustic remarks about holiday letters filled accolades of perfect families, was our pitiful way of trying to make ourselves feel better about our “oh-so-less-than-perfect” lives.

It actually worked {for a while}, and {sort of, but not really} helped us through a holiday we had all loved at earlier times our lives. But here’s the thing…holidays can’t stay the way we remember them and wish they could remain. And that can be hard…that’s all there is to it. But here’s something else to stuff in your stocking this year. Regardless of whether or not this holiday season met our hopes and dreams as children, or stays the same for us as adults, we still get to decide what it will be for us now. What it can be. What we want it to be. This year.

It’s a gift, this freedom. Best Christmas gift ever. We get to choose what we want for the holidays, and for our lives. And even when they turn out to be completely different from what we originally hoped for, asked for, or thought they would be, I’m here to tell you…life can still be so much more than many of us ever imagined.

My wish for you today is that you’ll let your heart be merry and your stocking filled with the new hopes and dreams of this season. Right here, right now…I hope you’ll jump in with me, and let yourself love this wonderful time of the year again. What a gift, this freedom, we’ve been given!