Christmas Day is less than a week away!  Are you ready for it?  Have you bought all the gifts, decorated homes and offices, and planned the meals? Many of us interpret and envision this time of the year as the season of joy, peace and harmony! Feeling any of that yet? If you aren't you're not alone since this time of the year is one of the most stressful we encounter.  Why? Simply put: we place too many unrealistic expectations upon ourselves and others, and when we don't live up to those expectations we feel as if reality has failed us.  And there you have it, the origin of our holiday stress.

"So, what do I do about the stress?  This is a busy time of the year."  Today, find a moment, a couple of minutes even, to just stop; then breathe, then begin to look around you, taking it all in; continue to breathe.

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As I was reflecting today on the nearness and meaning of Christmas, I recalled the following quote from Huston Smith's book "The Religions of Man".

 "He {Jesus} was a little known Jewish carpenter who, ... was born in a stable, died at the age of 33 as a criminal rather than a hero, never traveled more than ninety miles from His birthplace, owned nothing, attended no college, marshaled no army, and instead of producing books did His only writing in the sand.”
My faith and belief tells me that we are so loved by God that He sent His Son into the world to become one of us; born in flesh to experience all that we experience. God, born as a man, so as to join us to Himself.  What a deep expression of humility and love!

Today, as you breathe and reflect, may you be challenged this Christmas season to emulate God's humility in all your actions and interactions with others. May we be uplifted and encouraged in the faith that God knows and understands us because He was one of us, feeling and suffering as we do.  So let us turn to Him in time of stress, trial and jubilation for He has experienced our emotions and so understands us.

Yes, this truly is the season of joy, peace and harmony ... if we let it.

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