Finding the Joy of Christmas

I’m currently elbow deep in icing and ginger bread house accoutrements.

Yep – I’m back in Ohio doing all the Christmassy things with my nieces. The kitchen is in full prep mode for tomorrow night, Alexa is crooning away with Bing Crosby Christmas classics.

And I am searching high and low to find the Christmas spirit.

Now, before you write me off as the Grinch, let me just say — I’m in the Christmas spirit according to society’s standards: I’ve got a tree, been to the concerts, wrapped the gifts, and am relishing in the togetherness with my family.

But the real Christmas — the true meaning of Christmas — that is something I’ve been yearning to feel.

And as a Christian woman, that’s a vulnerable thing to admit. I think there can be a lot of pressure to have that picture perfect Christmas, where — yes you perfectly wrap the gifts and have gifts for all the neighbors, perfectly crafted and timely delivered Christmas cards, a house that looks straight off a Pinterest board, and all the while, keeping the focus on Christ’s birth and the “reason for the season.”

And frankly, that is an exhausting and impossible standard to live up to.

And as a result, the Christmas burnout or the numbing of joy I think is a lot more common than people care to admit.

This afternoon, I was in my head, stressing about all the things I still had to do for Christmas. And as I found myself mentally elsewhere while my nieces were trying to play with their out-of-town aunt they never get to see, I realized I was going about Christmas all wrong.

That Christmas spirit I was yearning for — it was right in front of me, and I was missing it, wrapped up in the bustle of it all.


That’s the name of the game for Christmas.

Starting with the Child in the manger, and stretching to the people all around me.

Jesus is in the manger, yes — but He is also in the hearts of my nieces, and all my loved ones around me. And I am grateful for that love: Love that came down on Christmas in the form of a child, and love that lives on in everyone we meet.

That’s what Christmas is all about: remembering that important truth, and then living in gratitude for it. Because when we embrace and live from gratitude, it results in the joy that comes from a full heart.

That’s what I was missing this Christmas.

And that’s what I wish for you, dear friends, this Christmas. I hope that wherever you are, you feel His love — in the manger, in those around you — and experience the joy that comes from a grateful heart.

Merry Christmas to you and yours. Grateful for YOU!


“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5

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179 responses to “Finding the Joy of Christmas”

  1. So very well done, and very true. Earlier today, I sent my three granddaughters home after a rather full 48-hour visit, and as I type this and miss them, I can vouch for a Christmas truth: presents are irrelevant; presence is everything. Hugs and love from west Kentucky– Mike

    • Thanks so much Mike. I’m so glad to hear you had a nice visit with your granddaughters. How special!!! Merry Christmas! Hugs and love xox

  2. You have it right as always. Thanks and let the joy of knowing that at just the right time, God sent his son into the world for you, let that joy fill you to overflowing. That will be noticed by all around you. Thanks for all you do. Have a blessed Christmas. John

    • Thank you John, yes He did! And amen – to overflowing! Have a merry merry Christmas! Hugs and love xox

    • Awww Paula I am so glad about that too!! Thanks for such a kind affirmation. Have a very merry Christmas!! Hugs and love xox

  3. Hi, yet again another wonderful testimony. One of my blogs covered the fact that not everyone recognise’s that Jesus is the reason for the season! Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year 😀

    • Thank you Kenneth 🙂 Amen to that! That the important thing to remember! have a very merry christmas my friend! hugs xox

    • Aw, thank you so much 🙂 Yes! and same to you, my friend! have a blessed and beautiful Christmas! hugs xo

  4. Well Caralyn, that is the secret of Christmas, and all other times too, is that ability to ‘let go’ all those expectations from others as well as ourselves and love the one person we have been skipping over most of our lives…us ❤️
    You deserve that love, especially after all you have striven to achieve. You have done the hard yards, the mountain climbs and the emotional tidal waves…and have achieved what no other thing can…to believe in, and just be you. Now accept her, give her a hug, and tell her ‘I love you’ with a gratitude for all that went before so that you could make this discovery ❤️
    Merry Christmas kind lady, may that love and gratitude always be a part of you ❤️

    • You’re absolutely right Mark — at ALL other times too! and yes! letting go is key. gosh what a kind thing to say, my heart is warm after this! merry christmas my friend! hugs xox

  5. Wonderful testimony. Thank you and Merry Christmas!
    We Christians have an other-worldly Christmas joy. It really is only fulfilled with Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. Christmas is the light in the depth of darkness and remains so through his death on the cross. He is the fulfillment of all we have hoped for. Peace to you Caralyn. And joy!

    • Thank you so much Tim! an other worldly Christmas joy — i love that so much! and yes!! fulfillment of all we have hoped for! big hugs to you xox

    • Hi Natalie! oh my gosh a year! what a special milestone! i can’t tell you how much that means 🙂 I’m so glad our paths crossed and that I had a chance to get to know you!! merry merry christmas my friend 🙂 xoxo

  6. What a beautiful message there 🙂 I too think that Jesus is in the hearts of many whether they are hurting or not.

    I also wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 🙂 Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

    • Thank you so much John! Amen to that – and it’s important to look for that in everyone we meet! big hugs xo

  7. I liked your title “Finding the Joy of Christmas.” It’s a very important necessity as a recognition that the Joy of Christmas came to this earth just to find, get to know the human race more intimately and redeem us. We owe Him our grateful recognition don’t we? Isn’t it sad that given the power to choose or not to choose Him those who choose the latter choose eventual self imposed destruction. What a tragic foolish decision.

    • Thanks Ian! I think you’re right about that – He came to get to know us and redeem us. What an incredible truth! Hugs and love xox

  8. I see a lady who wants to celebrate the day the way it is to be celebrated. I wish you a very Merry Christmas to a veru erry lady who has a very merry heart that truly glows.

  9. It wouldn’t be Christmas without family. May you have plenty of luck with getting a special Christmas roaring once again. I am happy to know, as I am sure others are, that you enjoyed a powerful year.

    All the best in 2020!

    • You’re so right about that! Aw thank you friend 🙂 merry merry Christmas my friend. Hugs and love xox

  10. What a beautiful and uplifting post! It definitely spreads joy knowing that although a person may not have a lot or have a Christmas glow or feeling, being grateful grants the key to having everything. I’m so proud that you’ve posted this. It is very uplifting!

    • Aw thank you 🙂 I’m so glad you thought so! Amen to that – gratitude is the foundation for a full heart and full life. Merry Christmas my friend. Hugs and love xox

    • Thank you so much Lisa!!! I hope you and your family have a beautiful Christmas too!! Hugs and love xox

  11. Yes! So true! I have been experiencing some of that hustle-and-bustle stress today myself. Such an excellent reminder! May your Christmas be a blessed one and your new year bright! ☺

  12. It was refreshing reading your piece, taking the pressure off – the storybook Christmas and finding the love of Jesus in your heart and in the hearts of your family members. For me – am recovering from Oral Surgery so for the most part I have been alone eating mushy foods and lounging about. Friends have been delivering pies. And with each delivery and meeting I feel the love of the season. That love, Jesus’s love is so special and wonderful. Thanks for sharing. My heart was warmed.

    • Thank you so much Kai! Yes! A pressure-off Christmas. Simple and focused. 🙂 hope you have a very merry Christmas my friend. Hugs and love xox

  13. Caralyn, every blessing to you this Christmastide. Thank you for your comments and support over the year. May we find God’s peace in the years to come.

  14. Dear Caralyn
    You are exactly right. It all starts with God’s love for us. Everything else comes from that.
    May you and your family feel the blessing of that love throughout your lives, and especially at this Christmas.
    With love
    Penny xx

    • Hi Penny! Oh my goodness thank you for this beautiful note. Amen – it all starts with His love! Merry merry Christmas! Hugs and love xox

  15. My most hated billboard back in Toledo was for a mega-church. It’s simple and horribly wrong message was “Feel Your Faith!!”

    I wanted to burn it down. Faith is about…faith. Believing. Without feelings. Depending on emotion for faith is like depending on emotion to sustain a marriage; it doesn’t work. True love is a choice, a conscious decision not to kill my spouse when she squeezes the toothpaste from the middle of the tube. Or maybe some minor offense.

    Ah, gratitude. Well, I think you’ve hit it. The focus is the manger and not the trappings. We know what to be grateful for! I’m so grateful for all your hard work and emotional effort to come here and be so effective. Grateful that God worked so strongly through you. Thank you!

    Once again, we have neither decorated nor bought gifts. I sent out a very few cards. We’ll go to church. Keeping it simple and focused. No building pressure and no let down. Just…the manger. And gratitude.

    • You’re so right – wow Jeff. What a powerful reminder. Thank you for this. Amen – faith is a choice. Just like love. You choose to do it even when you might not feel it. That’s why it’s hard. Btw you made me chuckle with the toothpaste line 🙂 simple and focused – that is the best way to do it. Just the manger. Thanks for this heartfelt response Jeff. I hope you and your family have a beautiful and blessed Christmas! Grateful for you 🙂 hugs to you and yours xox

    • Thank you so much Chris and Carol! Hope you and yours have a beautiful Christmas as well! Hugs and love xox

    • Thank you so much!! You’re so kind 🙂 hope you and yours have a beautiful Christmas! Hugs and love xox

  16. Exactly! Gratitude is a life saver. You are so right when you say that God is within those surrounding you. I think it is natural to feel out of touch with the holiday spirit and admitting that is amazing because you help others feel less alone in the hurt/void they may be experiencing. Such a beautiful attitude to have 🙂 Blessings and Merry Christmas!

    • Thanks friend! You’re so right – gratitude really is such a beautiful attitude to have this time of year, and every day! thanks for stopping by! merry christmas!! hugs xo

  17. I hope that you are OK with being in my thoughts on Christmas? You are fortunate to have a time and place to be with your family at this time. Have a Very Merry Christmas. 😍😘👍

    • oh this is so kind, thank you so much!! hope you have a very merry christmas as well! hugs xo

    • hi Tony! oh thank you so much 🙂 gosh you’re kind to say that. i hope you have a very merry christmas! hugs xox

  18. I would like to express my gratitude to YOU, Caralyn, for all your kindness and support.

    (Have linked your blog in a post (“Blogstars!”): which I hope is OK?
    Since you are a true blogstar, I thought it would be especially apt to include you!)

    Best wishes from Ken 🙂

  19. Merry Christmas Caralyn!! May the joy and hope of Christmas be your true constant, and may the new year bring you your soul mate, and may your blog-ministry go to a huge other level. 😘❤️🙏

  20. Merry Christmas Caralyn!
    That all sounds wonderful and so up your ally because you are so versatile and full of energy anyway! I got a call from one of my sisters early this morning after leaving her a message much earlier as I tend to wake before the roosters crow! She said she had so many things to try and get done and couldn’t talk much this time and I said no problem I just wanted to check in with you and make sure you are getting your rest and ask how work was yesterday. We hardly got into it when she said “I love you brother but I really can’t do this now I have to jump in the shower but I’m heading over to BJ’s Wholesale Club to pick up a few things,” and because I mentioned I might want to go there at the beginning of the week she was seeing if I was still interested. So, I said I haven’t even had a shower or had my breakfast but I can be out there in 20 minutes if I get cranking now and so I’ll see you there. Well, my point is once we met and did our shopping she started on about how she has so many places to be and things to get finished even a gift she needs to go buy at another store so she was getting herself kinda worked up or in a frenzy even when I said, whoa just relax and strop scrambling things up no need for it all you need is to set a list of priorities and what can get done will mostly likely get done but some things I bet you are not that pressing and other arrangements can be made. So then, I hear you both the holidays can really be demanding and get to be too much pressure and that isn’t right, because then it becomes too much of a chore and after its over you need to have a vacation or recuperate! I wish people could slow down more it is too hectic at times, ya think?
    But, allow me to just repeat what you said here and reflect on how beautiful and true it is; how this is the crux of it and we all need to really focus on this truth you explained so well!
    “Jesus is in the manger, yes — but He is also in the hearts of my nieces, and all my loved ones around me. And I am grateful for that love: Love that came down on Christmas in the form of a child, and love that lives on in everyone we meet.
    That’s what Christmas is all about: remembering that important truth, and then living in gratitude for it. Because when we embrace and live from gratitude, it results in the joy that comes from a full heart.”
    This is so beautiful Caralyn my friend and you know what I’m doing right after I sign off here? Yup, I’m calling my sister to say these words to her so you had a great domino effect and focused on what I was trying to say to my sister about stop scrambling everything up and set the priorities, I mean even if a few less urgent things have to slide we really should put the emphasis on what Christmas is all about like you said here! Thanks Friend and Sister in Christ Jesus!

  21. First of all, you get bonus points for using both “accoutrements” and “Christmassy” in the same post. I am an overthinker and a dweller, and my mind has been racing the last couple of days, and will continue to do so until about the middle of January (ha ha.) As a freelance writer and amateur songwriter, I find it helps to try and invent new ideas during this season, to keep my mind away from thinking about the past. Oh, I have the coolest story for you. Yesterday I had a nice conversation on Facebook with a guy that won “The Great Christmas Light Fight” in 2017. Also, the movie “Deck the Halls” is about him and his family. They have a big display in Scottsdale each year, and you can see it on Facebook and Youtube. He even sent me a Facebook friend request. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Seasons Greetings from Yorktown, Virginia!

    • Aw, thank you so much John! hahaha I do love a good random word 🙂 Oh how interesting! That’s awesome! I hope you have a very merry christmas! hugs xo

      • Haha sounds like the perfect day! I’m sorry about that – just think – next year could be totally different 🙂

      • Yes, I turn 57 in January. Maybe I will be more adventurous next year and go mountain climbing. I am so set in my ways. My daughter will be here in a few minutes with her kids. The Christmas tree is loaded with gifts under it.

  22. Blessings this Christmas day, Caralyn!!! Remember that God — Father, Son & Holy Spirit — are always only less than a heartbeat away. God is always here; we just have to turn to Him.

    • Oh my gosh thank you Dawn! Wow what a kind thing to say! Hope you had a beautiful Christmas! Hugs and love xox

  23. It’s true there is nothing like the true Christmas spirit. There is something beyond special about the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. When we look for happiness here and now we have lost the perspective of eternity. It was for eternity that Christ died. Lord bless during this Christmas season.

    • You’re so right. It really is amazing love. Hope you had a beautiful Christmas! Hugs and love xox

  24. I hope you had the best Christmas, ever, and wish you all the best throughout the New Year and beyond. That you know the true meaning of Christmas is all that really matters. From there, everything else will, quite naturally and automatically, all fall into place.

  25. Being picture perfect is far from perfect. Usually it means we spend so much trying to look good to other people that we neglect those around us that really matter.

    • You’re right about that Kat! So much wisdom in your words! Thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  26. Caralyn: My wife, Donna, and I appreciate so much your following PRN Pastor and liking numerous of my sermons. We enjoyed reading, “Finding the Joy of Christmas”. Joy truly is all around us just waiting to be found. God bless you as this year draws to a close and a new one begins. Pastor Keith

    • Thank you so much Pastor Keith!! I really appreciate it. Yes it really is all around us! Hugs and love xox

  27. That gratitude can be an elusive mindset when we get racing. I have been meditating on a quote from Julian of Norwich this season which has helped. ‘My, how busy we become when we lose sight of how God loves us.”
    Julian of Norwich

    • Thanks so much Jim!! I certainly did! I hope you did too! And yes! I’m glad our paths crossed! Hugs and love xox

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