Merry Christmas.

A simple phrase often said during the holiday season. It is an integral part of my family and my life.  When I say it, I mean it.  I want you to have a Merry Christmas. My intention isn’t to offend anybody with my words.  I’m just being clear about where I’m coming from in life.

I understand I might to talking to a person of another faith. When I say Merry Christmas, I’m not trying to convert them to my Christian faith.  I’m also not put off by others telling me about their faith.

I get joy when somebody sends a card saying Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holiday.

I also realize many non-Christians enjoy the season. I’m not offended; I’m glad. There is a lot to love about Christmas time.

The Chapins love the season because of the time with family. We love giving gifts, playing games, and watching classics like Christmas Vacation. (I have a Griswold hockey sweater, moose-eared egg nog mugs, and Merry Clarksmas socks.)

Christmas celebrations both pass quickly and slow lives down. Time seems to fly because our lives are so busy in December while simultaneously slowing down because on Christmas day, in one day, we can have a couple of huge meals, open gifts, talk for hours and play 37 hands of our favorite card game all day. It is what makes Christmas a magical time of year.

One of the best things about our gatherings is that for this one day, our entire focus is on the people in the room with us: no TV, no work, no phones, and no text messages. The doorbell doesn’t ring.

I understand some people go to huge parties with dozens of people. Others go to small parties limited in size. I am currently in a place in life where December 25th is spent with a small crowd.

This year, because of the weather, it might be just two of us. We will gather our entire family for a large gathering on a separate day when our schedules allow. It might be the evening of December 30th, but it’s still Christmas.

It’s Christmas to us because we are with our loved ones. I always remind people that we don’t know Jesus’ actual birthday, so we can celebrate Christmas any day we wish.

People seem to be in a better mood at Christmas time.

I understand that Christmas can bring up sad memories. Last year I had a neighbor and friend die on the day we celebrated Christmas. When I was a youngster, a Christmas party turned about as ugly as a party could get. But in the long run, the experience turned around the lives of many people in the room and completely changed the life of a loved one.

Despite a few sad memories, I still think of Christmas as a merry time of year.

I overeat at Christmas. I eat the wrong things at Christmas. So, by the end of the day, I typically feel bad. But I still love Christmas.  (Not gaining weight in December is like losing 5 pounds).

So Merry Christmas, I mean it.

I hope you enjoy the season. I have a lot to celebrate. Hopefully, the same is true for you.

(On the other hand, I don’t celebrate New Year.  So, if I said happy holidays, I would be lying).