How many times have we heard the term "joy of the season" and assumed that we knew what it meant? I know that the holiday season comes around and we begin to think of all of the wonderful opportunities we will have for food, fun, and fellowship. And while this makes us happy...it isn't joy.
We look around at the decorations...candles, trees, and other baubles that we release from their homes in our attics or storage rooms. We see red and green, silver and gold, blue and white, and we know that we are in that period known as "the holiday season."
Sounds of carols are heard on our radios, in our churches, and even in the elevator and commercials on television. The sound of a children singing in a Christmas play, the sound of a fire crackling in the fireplace, or the sound of bags being carried in from a shopping expedition all alert us to upcoming joy.
The smell of cookies baked in the oven, hot chocolate on the stove, and warm fragrant cider in the crockpot all add a deliciousness to this time of year. We inhale deeply and close our eyes and take ourselves back to our grandmother's kitchen or some other happy place.
Parties that invite us to indulge ourselves in celebration of the season...the rich, normally forbidden treats that we sample. The taste of peppermint from a candy cane, the sweetness of divinity, or the richness of the fudge your mother makes...all make you happy...at least until the heartburn sets in.
But also bringing joy is the unwrapping of the nativity set that you place on a table in your home. The tying of ribbons onto packages carefully selected. The ornaments that you place lovingly on a tree that have dates from the past...years too quickly passed.
So, is joy found in the senses? Is it found in experiencing the present with the friends and family of today? Is it in enjoying the tastes and smells of the season that remind us of happier times? Or is it the excitement of the lights and tinsel...the brightly decorated homes and the anticipation of three glorious weeks ahead?
To me, the definition of JOY is very simple...Jesus, Others, and then You. Remembering that Jesus is the reason for the season is more than just something to put on a button. It is a truth that somehow gets buried beneath all of the baking, shopping, and feasting. If we keep that truth in front of us...no matter what circumstances dictate this season...there will be joy.
The second...is to remember that other people should be of concern. We are to celebrate the people that we have in our lives. Find something to do that lets other people know that they are important to you. In fact, you are reading this for that very reason.
And finally...you. Enjoy whatever parts of the season make you happy. If you dread shopping...don't shop. Give the gift of your time, a treasured possession, or utilize your God given talents to produce something unique to offer as a gift...like the "Little Drummer Boy."
The holidays should be a time of joy. Reflect on the blessings that God has placed in your life. Blessings of people, comfort, health, spiritual maturity, and wisdom. These gifts are what He has given to you...and are certainly enough to be extremely joyful about this season. God's gift to you is the reminder that Jesus is Joy...Joy for the whole world. Enjoy!