It seems we are always in a constant state of doing, achieving, or being enticed with the theme of “bigger, better, more.” The challenge of this type of striving mindset is that the more we expect of ourselves and each other, the greater the likelihood we will feel increased stress and a feeling of discontent—a paradox of trying to be at our best, but missing the joy of being in the moment and appreciating that which is directly in front of us. Happiness is the ability to enjoy life and all that comes our way, while truly appreciating the good as well as the bad.
In our pursuit of happiness, we neglect the significance of striving to live a meaningful life. Happiness is a transient state that focuses on the present and is achieved when our needs are met. Meaningfulness, however, is more enduring and involves tying together the past, present, and future in a way that makes sense and reinforces our positive intent. People who see their lives as meaningful are generally more content and are less likely to defer to the external world in order to determine their level of happiness.
As we move into the festive season, let us be mindful of what it really means to be in the “Holiday Spirit.” I believe it is in our hearts; it feels warm and inviting. One cannot buy it at any store nor can one borrow it from anyone else; it is a sense of joy that cannot be defined by one thing, but rather is a collection of thoughts and acts of kindness that gives each one of us a sense of contentment that is contagious and hard to explain. As so eloquently stated by a group of our students, the Christmas season is best experienced through the five senses:
The sight of Christmas—lights, wreaths, red berries on the branches, stars, garland, candy canes, decorations, and the “wished for” crystals of freshly fallen snow.
The sound of Christmas—carollers, sleigh bells, logs crackling, and the whispers and giggles of children as they anxiously await the opening of their gifts.
The fragrance of Christmas—the smell of apple cider, eggnog and nutmeg, peppermint candy, hot chocolate, and the powerful aroma of a newly cut tree.
The taste of Christmas—shortbread cookies, fruitcake, mince tarts, turkey, ham, and all of the winter vegetables simmering on the stove.
The touch of Christmas—building a snowman or making an angel in the snow, ornaments on the tree, red berries on the branches, and exchanging a warm greeting or hug with neighbours and friends.
As we celebrate this special time of year, let’s “sense all of the wonders of the season” and reflect on what’s right in the world. Let us use this time to share our traditions, embrace our heritage, relive our childhoods, share stories of hope and inspiration, and reach out to those less fortunate. Each of us is the keeper of favourite memories, photos, family traditions, and heartwarming friendships. The symbols of this blessed season—light, warmth, belonging, hope, and unconditional love—transcend all cultures and religions and bring us closer together uniting us in our quest for universal goodwill and peace.
On behalf of the staff at St. Margaret’s, we wish the safest of journeys over the holidays to those students who will be travelling home for the winter break. For those of you remaining closer to home, we wish you a restful holiday, and we will welcome you all back in the New Year ready for new possibilities and experiences. To all of our SMS families, enjoy this time to reconnect with loved ones and friends and to fully appreciate the most precious of gifts—the children in your lives.
What defines the holiday spirit?
It is the tenderness for the past, celebration of the present, and
hope for the future. It is a genuine desire that every heart may
overflow with blessings AND that every wish will provide continuing
JOY and PEACE.