A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Beth Underwood: It’s time for us all to set aside life’s troubles and enjoy the true spirit of the holiday

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Here we are once again, smack dab in that most wonderful time of the year. T-minus a few days until the big day. Yet it seems like a lot of people have lost touch with their Christmas spirit. They’ve lost their sense of wonder and faith in humanity — like that whole peace on earth, goodwill toward men thing is nothing more than the words to an old song.

It’s as if many of us — dare I say it — have stopped believing.

We lament the commercialism of Christmas, while inadvertently buying into it (no pun intended). We blame our stress on the season itself, as we rack up debt under the guise that more is better. We place unrealistic expectations on ourselves and each other on the ultimate quest to recreate the last five minutes of a Hallmark Christmas movie. (No offense to all the Hallmark Christmas movies. You’re still my jam.)

We make bold statements like, “I can’t wait until Christmas is over,” or worse, “Christmas is for kids.” (Gulp.)

It’s easy to become a cynic, I suppose. The fact that Christmas has become no more than a nuisance for many is a frightening notion, but no real surprise. If we pay any attention to the nightly news, which isn’t something I recommend, we’re told we live in an age where human civility ebbs at an all-time low. Songs like Jingle Bells and Oh Holy Night somehow offend delicate ears. Need proof? Check out the comments below any well-read news story or social media post. (Or save your sanity and trust me on this one.)

To be sure, life can seem pretty bleak from time to time. That we need a little Christmas is an easy argument to make. But what are we willing to do about it? Are we willing to suspend our doubts to revive a little Christmas magic — willing to employ a little faith?

I’d like to think so. Heaven forbid we all end up in the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol (which I’d like to point out is probably the scariest Christmas movie in the history of ever).

It’s not like I’m asking you to believe in Santa, either (although there are worse things in the world. I’m just saying.) And it doesn’t matter whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, or the winter solstice, or whether your greetings begin with merry or happy or ho, ho, ho. The spirit of the season is all around us.

I’m merely suggesting that it’s time to suspend our stinkin’ thinkin’ — time to rediscover our own sense of childlike wonder and awaken the best part of ourselves, regardless of who we are.

It’s time to believe again.

Beth Underwood is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines. She shares stories of everyday life that entertain, inspire, and encourage others. Her books include Gravity, a narrative nonfiction account of a small group of Tennessee National Guardsmen, and Talk Bourbon to Me, a lighthearted look at Kentucky’s native spirit. Drop her a line at beth@bethwrightunderwood.com, or visit her website at bethwrightunderwood.com.

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