Sandy wrote this for us in 2013, but her thoughts and the story that came from them resonates still. ~ed.
I believe that’s what happened to me.
Every year about this time (just before Thanksgiving), when the stores have had their Santa decorations up for a solid month and canned Have a Jolly, Jolly Christmas blares from every loudspeaker in every department store; I have to look deeper for the true meaning of Christmas. Lately, I’ve found it harder to discover. Have I lost my holiday spirit or has it just been stolen by commercialism, which I can easily substitute with the Grinch?
Christmas, by its very name, is supposed to be a holy day.
A celebration of Christ’s birth.
I have to admit; I don’t find much holiness in Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Nor do I enjoy stringing up lights outside in the rain and wind, only to have to unstring them in freezing temperatures when it’s time to take them down. Or I could just leave them up like one of my neighbors does.
I love seeing the Salvation Army bell-ringers, but I usually pass them by because I rarely carry cash anymore. Mailing a check once a year just doesn’t provide the same sense of satisfaction that I used to get as a kid when I’d put a dime or a quarter into the bucket. There is nothing like receiving a personal thank you along with a warm smile. Of course, I’m happy my donation earns a tax deduction but then doesn’t that take away from the spirit of giving that Christmas should represent?
What does the Holiday Season really mean?
Mall avoidance? Family get-togethers?
Both can be blood pressure raisers. Did I mention my husband and I live in Kentucky, apart from our extended families? His mother and sisters reside in Charleston, South Carolina, and my family lives in Utah. If we want to be with loved ones over the holidays, it means we make the long trip. After fifteen years in the bluegrass state, no one has visited us for Christmas. We’ve toasted the New Year in on an airplane heading out of Atlanta and in the not-too-distant past, we ate one Christmas dinner at the Memphis Airport food court and another in a Waffle House while on the road because nothing else was open. With other similar memories to draw from, it’s no wonder I dread the holidays and the traveling.
Even if that weren’t the case, our world has become very complicated. We can turn on the television and see devastation at every turn in the form of wars, natural disasters, and crime. It’s impossible not to feel something for the suffering of others, yet the occurrences of such events seem never-ending and independent of any solutions tried. That increases the feelings of hopelessness along with the sense that our world will never improve. 2013 is not the Middle Ages, but has humanity truly evolved from that time? Sure, we have electricity and medicine and have made great strides in science and technology, but we have yet to curb hatred and violence due to ignorance—which brings me back to Christmas and the finding the spirit of the holiday.
In the last few years, I’ve come to dread the holidays for the very reasons mentioned above. This year, however, I was determined to find the true meaning of Christmas without feeling that I was just going through the motions, doing what everyone does between the fourth Thursday in November and the twenty-fifth of December because it’s expected.
The true meaning of Christmas
To start my journey of rediscovery, I decided to carry dollar bills and drop a couple in every time I went by one of those bell-ringers. That simple task has gone a long way toward lifting my spirit. Next, I decided to try my hand at writing a holiday story. I didn’t want just any story, though. It had to be something that would resonate in my heart and bring back the joy that I used to feel during a season that has become over-commercialized in my mind. It only took remembering a Christmas Eve about ten years ago when my son was still living at home. I learned a valuable lesson that night, one that’s been in my brain all along. I never realized its significance until I had to figure out what to write.
A Christmas Miracle is a story based on that night.
I admit to changing the circumstances a bit and weaving in a budding romance into the plot. After all, I am a romance writer first and foremost. What I realized in penning the events, those feelings of joy that I felt on that Christmas Eve came back to me. I had experienced my own miracle; only I was too wrapped up dreading the holidays to realize it. The spirit of giving is all around us, present in our lives on a daily basis, not just one day of the year. My miracle just happened to take place on December twenty-fourth, but it could have happened at any time. What stood out in my recollection was that I remember being thankful for what I have. I was also filled with love. For my family and those around me. Christmas and the holidays should be filled with both thankfulness and love.
I’m thankful to have shared those untraditional Christmas day dinners with my husband and son. They created loving memories that I’ll treasure forever. At the Waffle House, we had to pool our money to make sure we had enough because they didn’t take credit cards. We laughed and joked with the wait staff as well as other customers.
In the end, my endeavor has made me realize that to keep my holiday spirit alive; I have to give first and keep my heart open. When I do that, the energy always comes back ten-fold.
How about you? Have you lost your Christmas spirit?
If so, is there something you can share that will restore your belief in giving? Or a memory that might bring joy to your heart? Or maybe you never lost your spirit, but have a fond Christmas memory to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Sandy Loyd is a Western girl through and through. Born and raised in Salt Lake City, she’s worked and lived in some fabulous places in the US, including San Francisco and West Palm Beach. She now resides in Kentucky and writes full time. As much as she loves her current hometown, she misses the mountains and has to go back to her roots to get her mountain and skiing fix at least once a year. Otherwise, her muse suffers.
As a former sales rep for a major manufacturer, she’s traveled extensively throughout the US, so she has a million stored memories to draw from for her stories. She spent her single years in San Francisco and considers that city one of America’s treasures, comparable to no other city in the world. Her California Series, starting out with Winter Interlude, are all set in the Bay Area.
Sandy is now an empty nester. To date, she has published eleven novels – four contemporary romances, four romantic mystery/suspense /thrillers, a time travel contemporary/historical romance and two historical romances that are sequels. A Christmas Miracle is a short story, and her latest just in time for Christmas.
Sandy strives to come up with fun characters – people you would love to call friends. And we all know friends have their baggage and when we discover what makes them tick, we come to love them even more. She doesn’t skimp on the romance. And because she loves puzzles, she doesn’t skimp on intrigue, either. Whether romantic suspense, contemporary romance, or historical romance, she always tries to weave a warm love story into her work, while providing enough twists and turns to entertain any reader.
Follow Sandy on Twitter@SLoydwrites
And visit SandyLoyd.com for more of her books.
Megan Jenkins isn’t looking forward to Christmas. The holidays will forevermore remind her of what she had and lost. Her husband, and love of her life died a few days after Christmas the year before, leaving her a young widow with a fatherless son to raise. During the course of this Christmas Eve, Megan experiences her own Christmas Miracle as she learns the true meaning of giving with the help of Kevin Murdock, a long-time friend who’s always been there for her.
A Christmas Miracle is based on a true story—a Christmas Eve adventure that had to be immortalized in this short story so it would never be forgotten. The circumstances and names have been changed. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.
Buy ‘A Christmas Miracle’ at Amazon.