Three words often come to mind at this time of year: joy, love and peace.
Christmas is a time of rest for most, a time when the pace of non-retail business slows, schools shut down and the joy of socializing is more at the forefront. Even those folks who find themselves working over the holidays – thank goodness for them – usually gain a compensating peaceful break elsewhere in their schedules.
For people in our communities who have few assets, are at risk of homelessness, or have no family or friends to dine with, Christmas dinners held at Our Place, the Rainbow Kitchen, Glad Tidings Church and other venues can be a source of loving comfort, not to mention a solid meal.
We are often reminded at this time of year of the British and German soldiers who, on Christmas Eve in 1914 during the First World War, set aside their rifles and joined together for a day of carolling and merry-making on the Western Front.
They knew in their hearts that peace was what they were truly seeking, the chance to leave anger, impatience and self-centredness behind, at least for a brief time.
We are encouraged to do so today and take a few moments to smile at or chat with our neighbours, offer a kind word or smile to the beggar on the street corner who seldom receives them, do something out of the ordinary that shows we care about others.
That was the message the namesake of this special day was attempting to get across, and one that people of all faiths or beliefs can agree on and practice.
Even when it seems tough to muster up a smile or a compliment, finding the strength to do so, as literary character Ebenezer Scrooge found out so profoundly, never ends badly.
So whatever your plans for Dec. 25, try to remember that joy, love and peace are available within you, not just now, but all through the year.