The secular idea of Christmas is all about what gifts you will get. But if you’ve ever experienced feelings of disappointment or emptiness on the day after Christmas, you already know that the happiness you may feel when you open a present is never lasting. Happiness is fleeting. Real joy is hidden in the depths of you.

The source of real joy is the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit in your soul. You experience it as a warm inner feeling of peace and contentment that can sustain you even when things are not going well in your life. You can feel worried, sad or stressed, but it is still possible to tap into your inner joy.

The secret to discovering the real joy – especially at Christmas time – is to take a moment to think about the gift of the Babe in Bethlehem. Close your eyes and imagine that you are holding the Christ Child. Let hidden feelings of peace and joy emerge.

Don’t be surprised if your encounter with the Christ Child makes you want to do something to help someone else. The best way to sustain feelings of joy is to share what God has given to you.

Think about all of the good things in your life. Topping the list may be your family member and friends. Telling the people you love how much you care about them is a great way to stir up feelings of joy,

But God has also gifted you in other ways. Sharing your gifts and talents with others always brings joy. Here are some ideas:

  • Clean out closets and toy bins. Donate gently-used items to local outreach centers.
  • Buy a Christmas gift for a needy child.
  • Donate money to a worthwhile charity.
  • Bring food to your parish food pantry.
  • Visit friends or relatives in a nursing home.
  • Bake cookies for a homebound neighbor.
  • Volunteer to help decorate the church for Christmas.

You can probably think of other ways to bring the spirit of Christmas joy into your life. Just keep in mind that the more you give of yourself this Christmas, the more you will experience the true joy of the season.