Joy to the world

joy-to-the-worldThe word “joy” is rarely used until the Christmas season arrives when it permeates our language. That’s because many Christians equate joy with the religious love of God for all creatures on earth.

Even if you aren’t religious, the holiday season can be a time of great joy for people who experience deep contentment, gratitude or happiness.

What is the difference between joy and happiness?

Alan McPherson, a retired minister of Central Presbyterian Church in Hamilton, distinguishes between happiness and joy this way: “Happiness is an emotion. Joy is deeper, more long-lasting. It is based more on inner certainties, not external events.” has a similar, but slightly different definition, saying happiness is an emotional state of well-being defined by positive feelings ranging from contentment to intense joy.

There are many passages in the bible that use joy and happiness interchangeably and yet religious groups often equate joy with God’s love to mean a more deeper, long-lasting emotion.

For me, the moments of joy in my life are the times when I have felt supremely happy and at one with the world. These moments are rare, but so very special.

This week’s #HappyAct is to find joy this holiday season. Celebrate peace on earth and a time when joyful all ye nations rise. Listen to a choir echoing its joyous strains and repeat the sounding joy. The weary world rejoices for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Wear a crown of flames

candle-of-flamesDecember. A time of darkness and quiet. And while the joyous preparations for the holiday season distracts us from the short days and long dark nights ahead, we lament the loss of light.

The season of advent has historically been linked with festivals celebrating the Winter Solstice and the return of the light. Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights celebrates by lighting a candle each day for eight days. The Christian Advent wreath traditionally had four candles, one lit each Sunday before Christmas.

In Sweden, families light a candle every Sunday during advent and celebrate St. Lucy’s Day, the day of light. One young girl from each village would be chosen to wear a wreath on her head to form a crown of flames. She would walk through the village singing Christmas carols and bringing treats and food to the villagers.

In Canada, we take arms against the darkness by hanging Christmas lights and lighting candles to cast a warm glow and light into the night.

This week’s #HappyAct is to wear a crown of flames: light a candle, build a fire in the grate. Be at peace with the stillness and quiet of the dark until we herald the Winter Solstice and the return of the light again.

christmas lights

Be a secret Santa

Secret santaI’ve mentioned before that I’m lucky to work with some of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. Our work is as hectic as the next place—seems there is no down time these days. They call it the “new normal”. But in December, we make time to celebrate the season and each other’s company.

Some of the traditions we’ve started is helping to pack hampers for the Salvation Army as a team, writing hand-written personal cards, and of course, lots of holiday treats, goodies and a potluck.

This year the gang wanted to do something different than our ordinary gift exchange, and we landed on Secret Santa. We drew names (well, we actually had to draw twice since Jessica put her name on every slip the first time), and for the next two weeks, we are going to delight the person whose name we drew with little surprises to make their day. It’s been so much fun thinking of what I can do for my Secret Santa friend. I can’t wait until the 19th when we have our potluck, exchange gifts and have our “secret Santa reveal”.

This week’s #HappyAct is to be a secret Santa to somebody. Surprise them with a little gift, treat or card telling them how great they are, decorate their cubicle or hang an ornament on their front porch. Embrace the spirit of giving. Let the merriment begin.