Where Can I Turn For Peace?
It seems as though every year the Christmas decorations in department stores get put up closer and closer to Halloween, the commercials for Christmas bargains are played sooner than in years past, and the Christmas music on the radio stations starts taking over our everyday tunes starting sometime in October.
For the most part at our house we wait until right around Thanksgiving to listen to Christmas music, pull out the tree, and drag in the many boxes of decorations in from the garage. We definitely try hard to give the Thanksgiving holiday the attention it deserves. I will sometimes even go as far as to change the radio station when I hear one of my favorite Christmas songs just so I can truly enjoy and embrace the Christmas season when it is really upon us. I don’t ever want to get sick of Christmas music and to be honest, I’m not sure I can take 25 renditions of “Little Drummer Boy” for 2 months!
I remember one night back in the good ol’ days when I was probably eight years old, walking home on a cold Thanksgiving night from my grandma’s home. She lived around the corner from the house where I grew up. There in the front window for all to see was our not-so-beautiful 1980’s fake Christmas tree glowing with sparkling lights. To my eight-year-old eyes, it seemed like our house was giving light to the entire neighborhood. My dad had walked home a little bit early from Thanksgiving dinner at grandma’s to set up the tree as a surprise for us kids. I was absolutely mortified! People just didn’t set up their Christmas decorations that close to Thanksgiving back then. I thought we were going to be the laughing stock of the neighborhood.
Years have gone by, probably about 30 by now, and a lot has changed in this busy and crazy world since the 1980’s. Unfortunately, many of these changes are not for the better. We hear of hundreds if not thousands of people being killed throughout the world in hateful and gruesome ways. People are fleeing their native homelands, searching for safe havens for their families. As I have watched the news and social media my heart breaks for the wickedness and cruelty that exists here on earth. I have felt such sadness, fear, and worry for humanity. Where can we turn for peace with so much chaos in the world?
Just a few days ago I found myself at a local shopping center getting a few necessary items to make it through the weekend. After I had tossed the much-needed groceries into my cart I remembered I needed something else on the other side of the store. As I rolled my cart towards the other side of the store I could smell cinnamon pine cones and hear Bing Crosby singing about a “White Christmas” through the speaker above the Christmas section of the store. I wanted to go in…but it was 12 days before Thanksgiving! I asked myself, “Why would I need to go in there? I’m not ready to decorate for Christmas nor do I need a blow-up lawn decoration.” I found myself being pulled in by the glitter, smells, and lights. I decided to give in to my stubborn “Thanksgiving hold-out attitude” and push my cart through the Christmas section of the store “just to take a look!” As I wandered the aisles a sense of happiness and peace came over me. I had the entire section all to myself. I enjoyed looking at the new sparkling ornaments, the giant rolls of wrapping paper, gingerbread houses waiting to be built, and I especially loved the forest of Christmas trees in all shapes and sizes waiting to brighten up some family’s Christmas. My thoughts turned to happy memories as a child, snowy wintry nights, and warm fireplaces with stockings all hung in a row. I could have stayed there for hours. It gave me peace.
While I was standing staring at the Christmas trees a woman passed by just outside the Christmas section. She looked hesitant to enter probably just like I had. She gave me a little smile like “Oh you’re one of those who decorate for Christmas in October!?!” I gave her a polite smile back and then decided to say something to her. I needed to defend myself for standing there in the Christmas section in early November!!! When I opened my mouth I didn’t say what I thought I would say. Instead I said, “It’s wonderful in here. It’s happy and peaceful.” She quickly agreed and with a little hesitation she stepped into the peacefulness just like I had. I then said to her “The world is so full of such chaos right now that we could all use the peace that Christmas brings.” She nodded her head and agreed as she walked away.
As I walked out of the Christmas section and headed to the registers I noticed my heavy heart had been lifted a little bit. I had a little more pep in my step and I was truly excited for the upcoming holiday season—not for the gifts it brings, but for the peace it brings in my life and in the lives of my family.
Where can we turn for peace? Where do we go to have our hearts lifted, our minds rejuvenated, and our spirits strengthened? I can think of many different places I would go to feel peace but I have never once thought that my local shopping center would be the place I would find peace on that busy Saturday afternoon. I will continue to look for moments of peace to help calm my troubled mind throughout this holiday season, but for now I think I’ll go turn on my fireplace, drink some hot coco and watch “White Christmas!” May you each find peace in your lives this holiday season!