Sleigh bells, holiday lights, Christmas markets, carols, Santa Claus, high street displays and gingerbread houses. December is here and the holidays have officially started. No matter where you live, the holiday season is about to take over your life for the next few weeks.

Most people have mixed feelings about this time of year. On the one hand, we feel joy from the fact that we get to see our family and friends. Ok, I admit it… wearing a silly Santa hat is also fun! On the other hand, the holiday season brings its share of new pressures. Many of us feel like everything needs to be perfect. We need to cook the perfect Christmas dinner, choose the perfect gifts and be the perfect person.

This week, I had a chance to visit a local holiday market, where I found the most adorable little hand-made gloves (they cost about $4). It was the perfect antidote to the commercial holiday atmosphere that you get in most cities. As I walked through the market, I was reminded of everything that I love about this time of year – the sense of community, the giving of meaningful gifts and the electricity in the air.

What makes the holidays so special for me are the people that I treasure and love so deeply – my two beautiful sons, my daughter-in-law and my little granddaughter. I also enjoy the energy that comes with the holiday season. In a strange way, I even enjoy the chaotic consumerism (although I avoid shopping myself). I love visiting the Christmas market and sharing in the small rituals that make life worthwhile. They remind me that we are fragile and vulnerable in our individual lives, but, when we come together, we create something greater.

So, I’m curious. What do you find most special about the holiday season? Are there special places that you like to go or small rituals that you engage in with your family? Or, do you try to stay as far clear of the hustle and bustle as possible? I look forward to hearing your thoughts! Please comment below.

BONUS

Here’s a short video that I recorded on the meaning of Christmas.

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