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Speakers with Spark: Let there be joy during this special season

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Column by Susan Rider

By SUSAN RIDER

‘Tis the season of joy. Christmas is near and during this festive holiday season, it’s good to remember it should be about joy.

The shopping season also is here as customers search for the right gift or a gift to be able to mark a name off the list. It’s a tradition we go shopping during the Black Friday weekend. My mom, daughter and I  make the outing to enjoy the camaraderie of special loved ones and friends.

While standing in line — a long line mind you — we were laughing and talking when I heard a lady say, “I hate Christmas. I hate the holidays because of all the pressures I’m under.”

Oh my. I was about to say something to this lady when my daughter grabbed my arm and said, “Not today.”

So, for all of you who are feeling just a little overwhelmed by the pressures of the season, here are a few suggestions.

1. Say no. If there is something you truly do not enjoy, stop and say no to it. Change it to something you do enjoy.

2. Go to a Christmas pageant. Many of the churches have open pageants this time of year and they are wonderful events to lift your spirits.

3. make a joy tree. If you are grieving someone special, make a joy tree with all the special memories of that loved one. Every time you pass it, you’ll smile and remember. That positive memory with joy is what your loved one wants for you, not sorrow. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate tree.

When my father passed away, he had lots of white handkerchiefs, so we made angels for all the grandkids with a poem in memory of him. My girlfriend used her mother’s favorite dress and made teddy bears for all her children, nieces and nephews. Remembering with joy is the idea, so find a special thing to your loved one and build on it. For instance, if the person was a fisherman, turn items in an old fishing tackle box into ornaments.

4. Volunteer. If you will be alone this holiday season, volunteer at a food bank, orphanage or church or search for others who will be alone and have a gathering. Helping others will reward you with a joyful heart. Salvation Army is looking for bell ringers; you will never be alone there.

5. Give simple gifts. If you are on a budget, look for simple, handmade gifts. If you’re handy, make a simple bird house, a cross, a barn wood frame, anything you can build with your hands using wood scraps gives a special meaning to it for all. If you are good in the kitchen, cookies, candy or popcorn in a tin make a wonderful gift. If you can sew, make snowflakes for the tree, angels out of handkerchiefs, or personalize a fabric ornament for everyone on your list. I have a knit snowflake my grandmother made that has been passed down through the years, it’s yellowed and frail but it always will have a special place on my tree and, someday, my children’s tree. Homemade gifts are special gifts of love and are some of the best gifts cherished forever.

6. Reconnect with someone. If you’ve been angered or hurt by someone, forgiveness is the best gift and it doesn’t cost any money, just an opening of your heart. Try it this season and you will find that space can be filled with joy.

7. Listen to your favorite Christmas carol. Curl up with a warm cup of hot chocolate in your favorite chair and let the music begin. It’s perfect for lifting your spirit. “Joy to the World” is one of my favorites, but I have a new one you should try: “Let It Be Christmas” by Alan Jackson. It’s a beautiful song.

This is a beautiful time of year because everyone opens their hearts to caring, sharing and love. The challenge will be to make this season last the year through.

Joy to the world. Wouldn’t it be nice if the proclamation of these four simple words could transform every heart?

Susan Rider is Speakers with Spark’s Lead Dynamo. She lives in LaRue County.