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By Ellen Shuck

Who and what determines whether someone has a joyful Christmas? Do your circumstances signify how happy the Holiday is?

For some reason, it seems that the celebration of Christmas brings dread and stress to some, and energy and motivation to others. I decided to find a phrase that would describe how I believe that you can always be assured of a joyful Christmas. This is regardless of finances, the number of people present or how much extra work you think you must accomplish. Your troubles, responsibilities and health won’t necessarily change, but the way you interpret what is causing your woes or happiness, at Christmas, can take on a new and different perspective.

As I’ve talked with various individuals and listened to their outlook on the Holiday season, I drew some much-needed and beneficial conclusions on this most wonderful “day of days.”

The difference between the lives and lifestyles of the various others I encountered was not the problems, social class, financial situation or any other such cause that made them happy, sad, joyful or depressed. No, indeed, their state of mind was rooted within themselves.

It isn’t to say that some individuals do not incur greater hardships than others but it is always how you perceive your circumstances that determines depression or happiness, unless there is a medical or mental reason for your outlook.

If one has always depended on what goes on in the outside of his life, he is definitely vulnerable to mood fluctuations. In that case, if particular people aren’t present at Christmas, you’re short on money, or you don’t feel well, you will feel lonely and perhaps forsaken. If you’re unable to do the things you used to do, you’re distraught.

During these holidays, I’ve noticed that people that generally attempt to make the best out of situations, and depend on God for their nourishment and happiness, are looking forward to Christmas. The individuals look forward to attending churches services and celebrating that Jesus was born. They are joyful and, enthusiastic because family will gather, and even though some family members may be less amicable than others, they choose to love them in spite of themselves. They merely enjoy that they are present. Lots of delicious food is usually present and people tease and treat their palates with tasty flavors.

If you are someone that may be alone, you can rejoice that you’re able to enjoy the gifts that Jesus’s birth brought, so many years ago. Since I believe it’s our perceptions and acceptance of what comes into our life that decides our state of well-being, I hope many will make the attempt to — choose to be happy.

Jenny is a friend that seems to always interject a positive thought into the situation. She turns the most-minute occasion into a reason to celebrate. Jenney always has a joyful event planned. It may involve only a minimum of people, but she acts as if it’s an enviable event. I admire her refusal to allow the bad to determine her happiness.

Jenny is married with two children and she celebrates with them, too, at the slightest provocation. That is what Christmas is all about. Allow others to see Christ within you. If you strive to open your heart and mind towards the Christ child at Christmas, you will never fail to possess true joy within your most secret place — inside your heart.

The Jewish woman, Corrie Ten Boom, served time in a concentration camp and witnessed numerous despicable atrocities. They were so horrible one could not talk about them. Yet Carrie maintained her faith. She said about Christmas, “Who can add to Christmas.” The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son. The only requirement is to believe in Him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life.”

Knowing this, how can anyone fail to be joyful at Christmas?

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