As the days fly by and we head into the heart of the Christmas season, I can’t help but ask, what is the Christmas spirit really about? As a youth, I was captivated by the anticipation of Santa’s visit and the toys he left behind as well as the wondrous Christmas Day celebration with family and friends. Later in my life, as a dad, my greatest joy was witnessing my own childhood holiday euphoria reflected on the happy faces of my boys as they awoke on Christmas morning. Now years later, I ask myself, is that what the Christmas spirit is all about?

The truth is that the Christmas spirit is many things. In addition to its secular elements, it is a time to celebrate, give thanks and rejoice in the plenty both material and spiritual that is ours. For Christians, it is an opportunity to grasp the religious significance of the day. As Pope Francis recently proclaimed, “Let us open our hearts to receive the grace of this day, which is Christ himself. Jesus is the radiant ‘day’ which has dawned on the horizon of humanity.”

Thomas S. Monson put it this way, “Our celebration of Christmas should be a reflection of love and selflessness… giving, not getting, brings to full bloom the Christmas spirit. We feel more kindly to one another. We reach out in love to help those less fortunate. Our hearts are softened. Enemies are forgiven… The spirit of Christmas illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than in things.”

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The Christmas spirit is that magical connection that existed on Christmas Day in 1914 when soldiers in combat lay down their arms, left their trenches and shared a day of peace and joy. These trained militia let the humanity of this special day trump the orders of their commanders as they danced, sang and shared food with men who had only the day before tried to take their lives.  

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