The voice of Christmas crooner Andy Williams came through the radio this morning as my husband and I made our way to work. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” he sang from the classic song of the same name. A few years ago, I would have been belting out the song as loud as possible along with him to the probable annoyance of my husband and any motorist with their window open.

 

But this morning, I felt more similarities to a different Christmas old-time celebrity—Charles Dickens, the writer of “A Christmas Carol.” Although, to be perfectly honest, as I listened to the song on the radio, I was reminded of another work by Dickens—one that begins, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

 

Advent and Christmas are generally my favorite times of the year. I love the anticipation of the Advent season. I don’t mind the chaos in the stores. I am a big fan of the green and red decorations all around. Snowmen and nutcrackers and Christmas trees—I love them all. But…lately they also make me incredibly sad.  

 

Perhaps many of you are experiencing the same thing. This is a joyful, celebratory time of year for Catholics. It’s full of hope and wonder. However, if there are things in your life that are not quite “joy-filled” it could be difficult to get into the spirit of the season. Loneliness, thoughts of deceased loved ones, sickness in you or among family members, lack of money a job or other resources, or plenty of other hardships or disappointments can have you feeling down.

 

I don’t pretend to know how to change my frown into a perpetual smile. I wish I could help everyone reading this who is not in the Christmas spirit find it as well—but unfortunately life doesn’t work that way. But I do have hope! Particularly right now during this time of Advent as we prepare for Christmas we have two spectacular role models to look towards who were probably feeling not that great during this period as well—Mary and Joseph. I can only guess what they were going through, but I bet it was pretty hard and probably discouraging—both of them not knowing where they were going to stay, traveling down rough roads with little resources, towards a future they didn’t know, and Mary pregnant on top of it all with the child of God.

 

Somehow, that gives me comfort, knowing Mary and Joseph were also experiencing great joys and great hardships at the same time—just like all of us.

 

How are you doing this Advent season? How do you hold onto joy? Please share as it may help other readers!

 

 

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