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Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas!

It's officially Christmastime. Even for those like me who find the commercial frenzy that drives retailers to start Christmas on Halloween, upsetting; Christmastime is here. It's unfortunate that so many have allowed their greed to swallow up the Christmas spirit and take away some of the joys of the season by starting Christmas in October. Nonetheless, there are only a few more days left until Christmas and it seems like the Christmas Spirit is still eluding me; but, maybe it's my own fault. I wonder.

We've allowed Christmas to become a season of controversy. Some public officials won't dare call Christmas lights - Christmas lights. Some towns won't decorate their lampposts and town squares with decorations and festive lights - they fear it will upset some atheist, Jew, Muslim or other non-Christian. Some store clerks are ordered by their employers to say "Happy Holidays!" instead of "Merry Christmas". It seems like the Christmas Spirit is alluding me. I wonder if it's just me. Is it my fault?

Somehow, I've allowed Christmas to become tainted by commercialism, secularism, and politics- but It doesn't have to be this way. I'm becoming quite sure of that. Christmas is what we make it, no matter what the rest of the world does.

I've been guilty of criticizing politicians, public officials, retailers and others for stealing the Spirit of Christmas from me, as much or more than many others have - but it's my fault. It is my fault because I've let them do it.

I took a walk through my snowy neighborhood the other night; the houses sparkled with Christmas lights and snow was lightly falling. The silence of evening, the beautiful winter scenery and the festive glow of houses decorated for Christmas made it a perfect time for reflection.

No one has taken my memories from me - no one can ever take them. Memories are spiritual and untouchable by anyone. They are ethereal and gossamer. Real, but like dreams they can only be seen, touched and felt when we reach within. They always belong to us and no one can take them away.

No one took that memory of my first electric train circling the Christmas tree on Christmas morning when I was six years-old. No one took my memory of my first Christmas sled or the anticipation of a little boy with new skates waiting for the skating pond to freeze.

No one can take away the memories of my grandfather and grandmother and the old fashioned Christmases at their house. They cannot take the wonderful smells, lights, and Christmas dinners at my grandparents house; these are memories that take my breath away when I think of them now.

No one can ever take away the memory of my grandfather's last Christmas. My grandparents, as they grew older, bought an artificial tree. A real tree had simply become too much work for them at their age. My grandfather would set up the artificial tree and my grandmother would decorate it. It was a beautiful tree to me. No one loved me more than my grandparents and no one loved my grandparents more than me.

For some reason, one year, my freshman year of college, I decided that I wanted my grandparents to have a live Christmas tree. I wanted to decorate it for them myself even though I had never decorated a Christmas tree in my life.

I didn't want just any live tree, I wanted the perfect tree. I must have spent most of an afternoon combing through Christmas tree lots and Christmas tree farms. Finally, as it was getting dark, I found it in the most unlikely place. Just about a mile from my grandparents house, in the woods that belonged to a friend, in the same woods in which I had played as a young boy, I found a beautiful Douglas fir sitting among some spruces. It almost called out to me. I cut the tree and took it to my grandparents house and placed it in the stand.

I spent the rest of the night decorating it for my grandparents. I'd never decorated a Christmas tree before that, and it probably took me twice as long as it should have, but when I was done, it was beautiful. The perfect tree decorated by the most precious decoration of all - love.

I didn't know that it would be my grandfather's last Christmas. He became ill on New Year's Eve that year and died in February. A part of my life left me on that cold February day, but the memory of his last Christmas will be with me for ever. It is one of the warmest, fondest memories I have and one that I will always cherish.

Christmas is what we make it. It is far more than the decorations, the presents, and the beautiful lights - Christmas, more than anything, is the memories that we make. As long as we keep those memories alive within us, the Christmas Spirit will live.

Others cannot take the Spirit of Christmas from me because the Spirit of Christmas lives inside. No one will ever take it from me and no one can ever diminish it or tarnish it. Christmas lives because those of us who love Christmas and will never let it die.

I hope that you make beautiful memories with those you love this Christmas. Beautiful memories ensure that the Spirit of Christmas will live on in you and your children and their children - memories never die.

Keep the traditions of Christmas alive and remember that the only gift you really need to give this Christmas is the gift of love. It's the only gift you can give that will give you back more than you gave.

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas!

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