For many years, my dad lived on a farm.  It had sheep, cats, dogs, horses (including mine) and donkeys.  During those years, we often spent part of Christmas Eve with my dad.  Whenever I could, I would make a little bit of time to go be in the barn on Christmas Eve, to smell the hay, pat the animals’ coats, and listen to the quiet, contented sounds of a cold evening in the stables.

Although the symbolism of spending part of Christmas Eve in a stable with donkeys didn’t escape me, that wasn’t really what drew me to the experience.  What felt the most Christmassy to me was the peacefulness of the animals in the stable, cozied up and bedded down for the chilly night.  Years later, I discovered the same magic, and the same peace, in the open-mouthed, eyelid-fluttering sleep of my children.

Christmas is a time for peace.  It is a time for quiet moments spent with loved ones, for the small magic of traditions passed down from one generation to the next, for kindness, generosity and forgiveness.

That’s a nice theory, of course, but the holidays so often end up filled with stress and strife and frustration.  There’s a lot to do, there are a lot of people to do it with, and things never go quite the way we’d envisioned.  There is the potential for havoc to squeeze peace right out of the holiday.

For Christmas, I want peace.  Not just this year, but every year.  I want those quiet times, those joyous moments, the love and the kindness.  That’s what I want my kids to remember about the holidays — I want to share with them the wonder and happiness that peace can bring.

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