Journey Mercies . . . I BELIEVE in Christmas

Journey Mercies . . . I BELIEVE in Christmas

Just when the air turns colder and the days shrink into darkness, the Christmas season arrives.  It begins at Thanksgiving – with families, feast and football.  Then, during the next few weeks we shop and decorate, worship and become transformed into people most of us weren’t weeks before.  Our hearts become warm in the winter cold.  We miraculously find compassion for strangers, and we believe and remember there are and should be Christmas miracles.

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Macy’s Building via Pinterest

 

What is it about this holiday wonderment that causes even the crankiest of people to find a small sliver of kindness?  Where does the desire to be kind evolve?  Are we “acting” kind or is our kindness really genuine?  And why does this happen during Christmas, and not all year long?  This question begs for an answer.  Here are my thoughts:

I BELIEVE in Christmas and the reason we celebrate. I believe in the precious Gift that was given through the lowly birth of the Christ child more than 2000 years ago.

And, I believe that all humans have, deep in their souls, the desire to love and be loved and to give and receive kindness.

What is so amazing to me about Christmas is the transformation that occurs in our hearts.  We think back to the days of our own childhood and how we BELIEVED in Santa and his Elves.  How we struggled to imagine how Santa could ever bring gifts to our house when we didn’t even have a chimney.  But it didn’t matter if you had a chimney or not . . . .the gifts were always there.

I remember one Christmas very well. I couldn’t have been more than 6 years old . . .

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“The Christmas Tree”, Henry Mosler (1916)

I remember laying in bed for what seemed like an eternity, eyes wide open, ears on high alert, waiting to hear . . . what?  The sound of hoof’s on the roof or the noise the bells made as Santa encouraged those 8 flying reindeer, whose names we knew better than our own, to land. At one point I did hear something. Was it Santa?  Of course it was, it had to be!  I can remember my heart beating out of my chest.  I don’t know if I was scared that I would see him, or if I was so excited that he could actually be here.  It didn’t matter, because the next thing I knew it was Christmas morning and under our tree was a stuffed rag doll of my very own.  He HAD been there!

And I BELIEVED for another year.

I don’t remember when I stopped believing in Santa but I’ve never stopped believing in Christmas.

 

As I watched the magic happen with my own 4 children, it brought back the wonder I had known so many years before.  I couldn’t wait to see their faces.  And now with my 9 wonderful grandchildren, I have watched it yet again.  It made me realize that, as many years as we have, the magic of Christmas will always be seen through the eyes of a child.  Any child.

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Via Pinterest

 

On September 21, 1897, eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Sun to ask the question “Is there a Santa Claus?”  Newsman Francis Pharcellus wrote the now famous editorial and in one of the paragraphs he states:

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would the world be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be quite extinguished.”

 

I BELIEVE in Christmas.  And here is what makes believing so real for me. Christmas brings to all of us a deeper sense of our true selves.  None of us are born into this world filled with hatred or unkindness for our fellow man. This is what I know to be true, that during the Christmas season, people reach deep down into their souls and feel the need to show more love and kindness. At no other time of the year do we find more compassion for others than at Christmas.  Will we still have the “Uncle Scrooge’s?” Of course we will, but if you remember the old story, The Christmas Carol,” cold-hearted Ebenezer gradually becomes a champion to the poor. He BELIEVED and found his true self.

I BELIEVE in Christmas and as surely as Christmas rolls around, I believe that the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, goodness, patience and self-control, will play out in a most significant way.  I need to be purposeful in my intentions to be as close to those attributes as I can.  The choice is mine.

 

I love this quote by Oren Arnold who offers the following gift suggestions:

“To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.”

 

Here are a few suggestions on how you can share your gifts with others:

•  Sparks of Love – new toy drop off at any local Orange County fire station.

•  One Warm Coat – We are proud to be a drop-off location for “One Warm Coat” at O’Connor Mortuary. Bring your clean, lightly worn coats to our Laguna Hills location for donation to a local charity that helps victims of abuse and violence.

•  Next Meal Club Age Well Senior Services bringing hot meals to our Aging Senior   Population.

•  South County Outreach Preventing Hunger and Homelessness . . Helping People Help themselves.

 

What are your memories of Christmas and what does this holiday mean to you? 

 

Closing with a favorite memory from years ago, two of my children and my first-born grandson.

I call it, Waiting for Santa . . .

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May Your Christmas be full of family & joy!

Merry Christmas!!

Patricia

About Patricia

I’m a native Californian, born and raised in Long Beach. I raised 4 great kids and now have 9 grandchildren. I’m experiencing the greatest chapter of my life right now. I’m blessed beyond words, and so grateful for each day. I’ve been with the O’Connor Family for the past 19 years and have counted it one of my deepest joys and greatest accomplishments. Never did I realize that a passion could become a profession. I have come to believe that serving others, in whatever capacity, gives me a sense of purpose. It has also given me the opportunity to meet incredible healthcare professionals as well as myriads of selfless volunteers. And out of those relationships have come deep, meaningful friendships. We all have an opportunity to do good work. My goal is to create trusting relationships. My desire is to know that what I have done matters. I sum this up with a quote by Norm Henderson . . . “I want to plant trees under whose shade I may not sit”.
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  • Cheryl Lanterna

    Hi Pat-thank you for reminding me what a joyous season this truly is. Reading it reminds me to keep all the “real” meaning of the holiday in mind. I LOVED the quote from Oren Arnold! Merry Christmas, dear friend!

    • Patricia Kolstad

      Hello sweet friend:

      Merry Christmas to you and your family. I think all of us get caught up in the business of life and forget what Christmas is all about. Honoring our families, friends and traditions that go way back. I love Christmas and all that it means. It’s the time of year when saying I love you is easier and more meaningful. I just don’t want to forget those who I love so dearly, and those who may be unloveable.

      Like uncle Scrooge, I want to keep Christmas in my Heart all year long.

      Love you dearly!

      Patty O

  • Shayna Mallik

    Momma Pat,
    Once again amazing blog!!! I love strolling down memory lane with you! You are filled with so many stories and I am so thankful I am here to here your amazing storied. I like you believe in the Christmas Miracle. Thank you for sharing your story again!!! Love you Momma Pat!

    Shayna

    • Patricia Kolstad

      Hi Shayna:
      Christmas is that time of year where we all get the chance to do something really great for someone else without needing a thank-you. Christmas miracles come to us everyday . . we just need to look for them, and, pay them forward!

      MP

  • kari Leslie

    Wow Mom!!

    This is so great, and not just cause you used my baby’s picture!! Ha Ha! You know how much I LOVE this time of year, and you’ve captured it so truthfully. Just last night I was reading about the fruits of the Spirit, and the words the author used were so poignant. Now I know God is speaking to me, because of what you wrote. Two authors in 24 hours, this definitely requires my attention. LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS and SELF CONTROL, they fit so well into the Christmas Spirit. I love when God brings things to us, if we only pay attention, the lessons and or blessings can be immense. I’m feeling all toasty inside!! Really loved the quote by Oren Arnold!! It would make a great Christmas card.
    Love you Momma!
    kari

    • Patricia Kolstad

      Hello darling daughter:

      I remember so much about you and our family and how much fun we would have a Christmas time. I loved this picture of Kristen, Michael Boy, and Bruce. I was hoping that it would fit my blog post.

      It’s interesting that you are studying the fruits of the Spirit. I have always believed that these 7 “gifts” are made just for us, to help us become all that the Lord wants us to be.

      Now that you have taken the reins and have become the Christmas House, it will be so wonderful to spend Christmas with our whole family at your home. Full of love and the spirit of ” I BELIEVE”.

      MERRY CHRISTMAS!

      Momma

  • Auntie Pat,
    Remembering Christmas morning and especially the night leading up to it are some of my favorite memories. My brother and I would sleep in the same room and wake up at least a dozen times to check the time and be devastated that only 20 or so minutes had passed. But what fun when 6 am finally rolled around and we could wake up our parents and go find all the magical toys & presents waiting for us!
    I love these memories because they are so rich with relationships, love, tradition and joy. That is what Christmas symbolizes for me and I think that is beautiful. The fact that a holiday can be that special to you from the beginning is such a treasure. Of course it’s a bit harder now to feel that childhood mystery and wonder over what is under the tree but the real joy for me now is seeing the faces of my family open up presents I’ve specifically chosen for them.

    Thank you for the opportunity to re-visit these memories and share them here. Your Christmas stories sound like treasures, thank you for sharing those with us too!

    Molly

    • Patricia Kolstad

      Hi Molly:

      Remembering is one of the greatest give we have, not only for ourselves, but to share with our family as well. As we age, memories are what bring us back to our younger days when the anticipation of the “jolly old Elf” make our hearts beat anew. Someday you will look back again with wonder and surprise as you share more memories with your family.

      This has been one of the greatest joys for me. Sharing just a very small portion of my memories took me to places and feelings that I hadn’t experienced for a very long time. This has been so enjoyable. Thank you for letting me peek back to your younger days.

      PS: I remember well you being at my home and sharing the Christmas Story, presents and celebrating Jesus’ birth. Those were so special for me. Hope they were for you!

      Merry Christmas!

      Aunt Pat

  • Cathi Hartwell

    Thanks for making me smile!

    • Patricia Kolstad

      Hi Cathi:

      I hope bringing a smile to your face also brought to you memories of Christmas holidays. It’s fun remembering times from years past.

      Merry Christmas!

      Pat

  • Lori

    MP,
    Wow!! I love the picture!! Is that Kori or Kristen with Bruce and Michael? That picture says it all. Pure innocence and wonder of children is a precious thing!

    As you described the night before Santa came and left behind your rag doll, I was transformed back to Christmas Eve when I was ten years old. The waiting, wondering if he was coming, inability to sleep, awareness of each noise, these are all memories that are common to so many of us. That was the year Santa brought the bicycle I had been begging for all year.
    I love this time of year as well. People actually smile and talk to each other. We hold doors open for those behind us. All of the basic polite gestures most of us automatically do are heightened in the Christmas season.
    I also appreciate your suggestions for serving those who are less fortunate. Nothing makes your heart feel warmer than giving, especially to those who are in need.

    Love you,
    Lori

    • Patricia Kolstad

      Merry Christmas #4

      The picture is Kristen and Bruce and of course, Michael. I love this picture. It captures the essence of what I believe Christmas is for kids. The wonder and anticipation of the Jolly old Soul we call Santa. Doesn’t it just make you smile?

      You are right about Christmas . . . it does cause us to stop and be kind. I like the words to the Christmas song that Elvis made popular. The chorus says: “Oh why can’t everyday be like Christmas? Why can’t this feeling go on endlessly? For if everyday could be just like Christmas, What a wonderful world this would be!”
      Don’t you agree.

      Hopefully those who read the blog will be encouraged to give a little something to those who are less fortunate. It’s as simple as canned food or dry goods, or a warm coat. We can all do our part to help others. Not just at Christmas . . but everyday.

      Love to you,

      Momma Pat

  • Jeff Turner

    Pat,

    Christmas was my father’s favorite time of year. Throughout my elementary and junior high years, my dad was involved in our local YMCA in Westminster, CA. One of the biggest fundraiser’s of the year was the Christmas tree lot. The Y’s Men’s Club volunteered and sold trees for most of the month of December. I can recall 4:00 AM trips in my dad’s red ’55 Chevy pickup to the Los Angeles train yards to pull Christmas trees packed in snow out of box cars. Then on to the tree lot where I made tree forts to hide in. I would make trips to the liquor store to get “Pixie Sticks”. One of the men made a flocking machine out of a vacuum cleaner complete with a mechanized turn table that automatically spun the tree while spraying on the water and whatever “flock” is made of.

    We had our pick of trees to take home and the holiday atmosphere was thick. The flood of memories include, presents, the want of presents, the satisfaction of getting the things I wanted, the disappointment of not getting what I wanted, peeking at presents before they were wrapped, pretending to be surprised when I did open them and on an on they go. There are many life lessons wrapped up in Christmas. I have met Christmas with some ambivalence at some seasons of my life I suppose because of disappointments and the self focus of getting things.

    I relax more now and my expectations are simply of being with family and spending time together. It is, I suppose, appropriate that my dad died just minutes into December 23rd. We had Christmas eve early that year because he was on hospice and in a hospital bed in my parent’s living room. My sister’s came as we realized the time was near and we gathered as family to reminisce about dad’s love of Christmas. We shared about Christmas’ past and the fun it was because or our dad’s love for the season. He and my mom were engaged on Christmas eve.

    Christmas is now a season to remember the coming of the redeemer and the home going of the most important man in my life. The man who was foundational in forming me from the beginning of this life. His influence is still having its effect on me.

    There is so much to reflect upon at this time of year. Thank you for the impetus to do so.

    Merry Christmas Pat,

    Jeff

    • Patricia Kolstad

      Jeff
      You are my dear friend. I laughed out loud at the thought of “pixie sticks” and flocked christmas trees. Your memories are vivid and I could picture you and your make believe christmas tree”fort”.

      I know your dad has had a major roll in the man you have become, and the joy you feel when celebrating the Christmas holidays with your family. I have loved sharing some of that time with you and your family when Molly and Andy were small and we would have a birthday party for the baby Jesus, read the christmas story, have cake and open presents for all the little ones. It’s wonderful remembering those “good ol’ days”.

      Thank you so much for sharing your memories. I love hearing everyone’s special times.

      Enjoy this Christmas and make it the very best ever . . . . Blessings to you!

      Pat

  • Hi Pat –

    Thanks for bring the meaning of Christmas to our hearts! I struggle with the commercial part of Christmas and the loss of the true meaning of Christmas. I have even debated how to explain Christmas to Jesse, you have given me a great idea on how to teach the meaning of Christmas to Jesse. My memories about Christmas have never been about the gifts I have received or given, it has been about gathering as a family and celebrating the life that God has given us. Life is a gift and we can choose to accept it or not. I am thankful for the family and friends in my life, they are the real gifts to me.

    • Patricia Kolstad

      Hi Neil:

      I love knowing that with each new adventure you have with Jesse, there will be lessons and traditions that you will pass along to him. And I believe, as you do, that giving of ourselves to others is the greatest gift. Our lives are but a blink, and if we can impart our traditions, our “gifts of the spirit” to our friends and as you mentioned, to your sweet little boy, Jesse, he will feel the way you do as he grows into a man.

      I believe in Christmas and all that it means. Thank you for sharing what Christmas means to you. You and your sweet family are a gift to me. I can’t wait to hear all about watching Christmas unfold through Jesse’s eyes. It’s such a special time for you and Lisa.

      Merry Christmas, with Love.

      Pat

  • Michael Donaldson

    Thank you so much for these beautiful words! True inspiration and gift of hope and love! Family is so important, and we must always strive to build our families who are the basic units of sociey!

    Blessings,

    Michael

    • Patricia Kolstad

      Hello Michael:

      Thank you so much for your sweet comments. As you and I both know and understand, the family unit is the most important thing. And at Christmas time we have the opportunity to share our traditions, beliefs, and love to our family as well as to friend and strangers. May we always remember the Gifts of the Spirit and reflect them.

      I’m so excited for you, Audrey and the kids. Your new baby will be here soon – what a wonderful gift for Christmas. A child will be born. Another baby to love.

      Merry Christmas, Michael. You are a sweet friend to me.

      Pat

  • Anne

    Pat,
    Christmas!! A magical holiday. When I was young, we had Christmas programs in school and also at church where each person had to memorize a short up to a rather lengthy poem or recitation depending on their abilities and willingness to do it. We learned to express ourselves and to emote! Those Christmas programs were good experience. We were allowed to have Nativity scenes in the school. We were allowed to sing about Jesus in a Manger, shepherds and wise men and “O Holy Night!”. Took it all for granted that it would always be so.
    As young people we grouped up, bundled up and went caroling at night in the snow. We were served hot cocoa and cookies as people came to their doors to listen. Sure was easy to feel the gifts of the Spirit, because they were welcomed, actively observed at home and in public.
    I do BELIEVE in Christmas, mainly because I believe in the Christ child. But those of other faiths and even non-faiths believe in Christmas because of the Christmas spirit one feels. It is something we all can share. And that is a good thing. I have to watch Virginia at least once a season. Her journey from skepticism to faith is more than a Christmas classic to me. Lou and I purpose to keep a few extra bucks on us at this time, so we can be prepared to be spontaneous in small ways with strangers, when the opportunity or the “spirit” hits us. It is a small way to keep it “not about us”.
    Merry Christmas!

    Annie

  • Patricia Kolstad

    Anne:

    Christmas brings us to a time where we can celebrate the birth of our Savior AND the joys of watching our children and grandchildren experience the magic of Christmas Eve! And, we have an opportunity to share our abundance (whatever that might be) with those who have less.

    I was very involved with our choir at church. And each year we would begin practicing for our annual Christmas Joy musical. Our rehearsals started with “Christmas in July” and we would work heartily memorizing our lines and the songs. Then for weeks we would do dress rehearsal on stage. It was exhausting, but oh my, did I enjoy it. Those are sweet memories for me.

    Thanks for sharing, and Merry Christmas, my friend.

    Pat