It is actually pretty sad that the most magical time of the year is so focused on a rush to acquire things and then a rush to be with family and friends, which can actually be a source of misery. In all this, we seem to forget that it is actually a very spiritual time….a time of miracles. To make things even harder, if you are responsible for making the magic for your own children or others in your life, it is a challenge to find some peace for you! This all leaves very little magic in this supposed magical time of year.

         As I observe people in different phases of their lives and I often wonder, do they have family, do they receive gifts for Christmas? For a lot of older folks, and lonely folks, they probably don’t have lots of family and friends as they once did. Gifts probably don’t mean the same as they did when they were children. So, does that mean that the Holidays are not for those people anymore?

         For me, I have found the Holidays have turned into a time of total exhaustion. Between trying to purchase the correct amount of gifts, to rushed family gatherings, my mind doesn’t find solace in the joy is this season of magic and wonder. The Holiday Season is more of a dreaded frenzy, than the sweet miracle of the birth of Jesus or the eight days of light.

         So I have resigned myself to finding the little bits of peace and joy this year. Here are 5 secrets that you may find helpful in experiencing the Holiday Season with some joy and wonder for yourself.

1. Read or watch the Christmas story and the story of Hanukah …the original stories of this season of our western culture. Whether or not you believe in every detail is not the point. These stories are the foundation of our culture’s Holidays. In addition, there are also stories that share the history of this season that are pagan and Jewish. Those stories are good and fun to know, as well.

         I think that we drifted away from our culture’s stories, which can create a sense of forgetting your own place in it all…your own story. Revisit your spiritual roots or enjoy creating new ones. And if you have children, enjoy the wonderful stories of Santa and snowmen, but also experience the Christmas story as well.

2. Sing! There have been a number of scientific studies about the benefits of singing. It releases endorphins in your brain, it improves your mood, etc. What better time of year to have improved brain chemistry. Put on some Christmas music and sing out loud. Get your children to join you, if they are around.

         Better yet….I am sure that community or church choirs would love to have some singers to help them celebrate the season. In addition to the health benefits, singing with others builds community and helps us remember that we are part of the world around us.

3. If you don’t already attend a spiritual community or religious service, make a plan to attend one around the holidays. Some of my fondest memories were of the beautiful decorations, the lights and the formalities at Christmas Eve Mass. The carols helped regale my building excitement for the next day. A religious service forces you to pause for one hour, and in that time we can regroup and find our gratitude in all this chaos. So sit in the silence, amid the lights and celebration, and let your heart be glad.

4. With so much focus in the media about facts and truth, which are important, we forget that there needs to be a place for wonder and magic. Give your child the space to believe. Let their minds be full of the possibilities of Christmas and the Holiday spirit. And give yourself permission to believe again too.

5. The most important tip in this list is that the holidays are a season of miracles. The birth of Jesus, and all that surrounded his arrival was a miracle. And the celebration of Hanukah reminds us that the lamp oil burned for so many more days that it should have. These are miracles.

         Keep watch for a miracle; even a little one. If there is some issue or desire in your heart, don’t let the chaos and harshness of these times ruin your hope. In fact, if there was ever a time to stop and pray for the needs in your heart, it would be at this magical time of year. Share your secrets with the Divine and then watch and pay attention. I sincerely believe that God, however we define him, wants us to be happy. So put the wants of your heart out there and watch to see what happens.

The greatest miracles in my life were framed by the chaos of the Christmas season. To my heart’s delight I keep watch for the next little sign of wonder. Please enjoy yourself this Holiday Season and always look for the magic.