Christmas is my absolute favorite time of the year, although for many it evokes feelings of depression. Advanced stages of the blues should be brought to the attention of a counselor or physician.

 For those who simply feel a bit melancholy as the season nears, I am going to count off a few of life’s little pleasures to amp up our Christmas cheer…

 Here are a few things that raise my merry meter:

 1) Christmas Soul Music

I have only recently ventured outside of Nat King Cole’s album into the other popular favorites from my parent’s generation. The OJay’s classic, “I Can Hardly Wait For Christmas” is now on my playlist, as is the version of “Silent Night” recorded by The Temptations. Also included is Marvin Gaye’s politically charged, “I Want To Come Home For Christmas.” These songs put me in mind of visiting relatives during the holidays when I was growing up. The emotion in the vocals reminds me of being surrounded by warm, passionate family members as everyone put aside their daily work to make MERRY. Of course I listen to new music, but it just doesn’t have the same soul.

 2) Hallmark Channel Christmas Movies

So I totally get that these are romance novels set to light instrumental soundtracks, but they are heartwarming! After a busy day of work or play, the Christmas trees, cozy winter accessories, and mugs of cocoa featured in the movies are nice to look at. The stories remind us to “feel” our feelings. If you do not have access to the Hallmark Channel, the classics certainly work as well. Pop some fresh popcorn and sit down to watch “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

 3) Oprah’s Favorite Things

When I visit the mall near Christmas it is either very early as soon as it opens, or very late when everyone else is heading home. I make an art form out of avoiding stress! I try to ensure that the gifts that I do select are thoughtful, meaningful, or practical, and mostly purchased online. Oprah makes this easy for us every year by having her crack team of staffers conduct significant research to produce a list of high quality items for every budget. The list includes smart gifts like a key-finder that works with your cell phone, home goods, and delectable dessert treats. The list is simply gorgeous to look at! You can view 2016 favorites here:

 4) Christmas Cantatas

What is merrier than a Christmas cantata? This is where church service meets musical and the results will lift your spirits! I do enjoy my Christmas soul music, but nothing can compare to “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” or “Joy To The World.” This is worship music! It is most fun to sing in a choir, but even if all I do is sit in the congregation, I seek out at least one cantata every year. Church cantatas take the family away from the hustle and bustle to enjoy the music together. It is one of my merriest moments!

 5) Baking Cookies

Enough said. Click here for an easy recipe for the novice baker. When the first batch comes out of the oven, repeat to yourself, “cookies are a sometimes food,” and enjoy!

6) Black Santa 

I have a strange fascination with Black (or African-American) Santa. I love to look at him! I only have one small ornament on my tree at home but I love to take pictures whenever I see a Santa of color! I will share my personal assessment of the reason for my enchantment: When I was a young girl, our family watched the Christmas episodes of The Lawrence Welk Show and other national holiday shows on television. Santa was always White (Caucasian). Speaking as a minority citizen living in America, we have come a long way! It is nice to now see a reflection of our culture in society. Seeing a Santa who looks like my granddaddy reminds me of him. Our family has “Black Santa sightings” and my daughters know that I will always stop to take a picture. For those of you who are under forty years of age, I am so blessed that you completely take these things for granted and have grown up in a more diverse world. You make us proud!

When I get to share these MERRY experiences with my family, I am one happy lady!  -But even if I don’t, there is a very important reason to celebrate Christmas:

Jesus came, and He is The Light of the World. This means that no matter what is going on in my life, -all is BRIGHT! The Bible describes Jesus as The Bright Morning Star. As I make time for the feel good activities listed above, I am conscious to carve out special time to focus on the true Lover of my soul. Christ is the reason for the season! May His light draw you near, and give you peace!

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