or many years, I’ve gone into the Christmas season with a rain cloud of heaviness seeming to shroud  me. It wasn’t fair to my family when I did not exude a merrier Christmas spirit. Going through the motions, of decorating a tree and doing the shopping thing only added to the gloom I felt for the impending days ahead. 

It seemed the season lasted for three months, making my depression hang on like a winter cloak I couldn’t shake. It mattered not whether I had money to spend or didn’t I dreaded seeing the Thanksgiving festivities end for I knew what would come next; the pressure of getting into the gaiety of the season. I’ve been a Christian since I was the tender age of twelve, however I remember only a few Christmases that were happy ones. 

I’ve done a "Google" type search on my heart to explore where the dread originated. 

A Christian should be able to look past the commercialism and realize it isn’t in the presents or lack of presents. 

A Christian should see the reason for the season is not that the  stores stay open later, or have an abundant supply of everything, or that one must race to get a parking place close to the mall. 

The hubbub of shoppers and traffic lights blinking a bright red and green do not even speak of Christmas. In fact one can see the same things on a Friday afternoon or Saturday.  So what did I come to understand of my plight? The commercialism was no different in the 40’s and 50’s for I heard the other kids in school tell of all they received at Christmas that was much more than I could boast. 

Each year was the same – no one was trying to be mean or expose me for the poor girl I was – it was a fact their parents could do far beyond what my parents could do with six growing girls needing the necessities of life. Often I set my heart on something like a "bike or a jump rope".  That sounded like something I could brag about.  However Christmas came and went and I got the usual doll and something to sleep in.  

So it was, I came to dread the season – most times I didn’t have anything wonderful to share when "show and tell" time came in school. It made me uncomfortable.  

Secretly I was glad for the new gown or pajamas and even the doll.  However my friend’s  gifts seem to overshadow mine.

Still the following years helped me little to overcome my feelings of inadequacy where Christmas and buying gifts is concerned. Is not this an age-old trick of an enemy who wants to down play the reason for the season? 

Whatever he can drag  and dredge from our past that was an innocent fact – and bring into our future to cloud a joyous time – he does. 

An ever-relentless pursuer of a child of God – he determines to ruin our chance for gladness of heart. What did the angels declare to the Shepherds on the hillside: "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 

Luke 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 

Luke 2:12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 

Luke 2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 

Luke 2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

Glory to God and peace on earth with goodwill toward men! Oh to have heard those words sooner; You know, actually heard them sooner. 

The angel was not sent to the chief priests or the elders (they were not prepared to receive these tidings), but to a company of poor shepherds. 

Men like myself who had low station in life, men who smelled bad simply because of the mere fact they tended sheep, men who were  ready for "good news and glad tidings.  Men who were  unhindered by the woes of life.   Oh how I wish I’d heard this when I was a child! What difference it would have made to have seen this played out in the elders of the church. 

Isaiah prophesied these words: Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given… and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 

The Prince of Peace is the part I had lost. A troubled spirit during what should be the most joyous season does not show a world the gladness of a Christian’s heart. In our troubled times unbelievers are looking for a Christian with gladness of heart, and a joyous countenance. 

They need nothing of our sad countenance, or our worries, they need the Prince of Peace, the everlasting Father. Doesn’t matter if we have no job to go to on Monday, or there is no money to buy gifts, we can make a joyous occasion of knowing Christ and the serenity of the Manger. 

We can relish in the truth that the world changed that day.  The day we refer to as Jesus Birthday.  

We can stop long enough to hear with our heart the angels who sing constantly, "Hallelujah, Christ is born"  and join our voices with theirs.

Remember He came to the poor as well as those who deem themselves rich. Either way you and I are included.

At this writing, it is only due to lack of opportunity I do not have my tree up. However when I do, I’ll examine the little pictures of those grand ones that will adorn my Christmas Tree. I’m sure I’ll take my time, and recount my blessings among which will be the fact that my children weren’t hindered by my lost years of gladness.