Christmas, Hanukkah, the “holiday season” experience… it’s supposed to be a time for love, for giving, for “peace on earth, good will toward men”. But if that’s so, what’s with all the hand gestures in the mall parking lot? Are the screaming fits at the Return/Exchange counter really necessary? Isn’t there a better way to celebrate the Yuletide without having trampled toddlers and psycho shoppers on Black Friday at 4 AM store openings? So how do we “normal” people bring some sanity back to the season?

Seriously people, can’t we slow it down just a tad, take a deep breath and accept the fact that all of us want to have a happy holiday season? Even the pushy broad in the toy department aisle who snatched the last Rock Star Elmo doll, and the line cutters at Wal-Mart share the same goal. They just want to get it all bought, wrapped and delivered before the big day arrives, because they want to show someone special in their life that they care.

But we’re not going to change the abrupt and demanding tactics they use to make their Christmas dreams a reality. So maybe it has to start with us, with you and me. Someone has to start the change, to redeem the holiday, to genuinely live out the spirit of Christmas. But how do WE do it?

WE smile at the guy who steals the spot in the parking lot we were waiting on, and wave at him using all five fingers.

WE let the person with two items go in front of us when our cart is filled to the brim.

WE show a little perspective when faced with shopper stalemate. When we see that a crazed last-minute shopper is vying for the same item we’re after, WE let them have it… No, not a punch in the face, but the item on the shelf!

WE take that precious 30 seconds out of our day and with the Salvation Army bell-ringer, the cashier at Macy’s, the stock boy at Target, the waitress in the packed out restaurant or the bedraggled Mom trying to make a Christmas miracle happen with a tight budget & four children in tow… and as we pause with each, look them in the eyes, and wish them a heartfelt “Merry Christmas”…

People want a happy holiday… they want a Merry Christmas… and they are working like crazy to make it happen. But think back to that night long ago about the message the angels brought to the shepherds. It wasn’t “happy holidays” or “Merry Christmas”. It was “peace on earth, goodwill toward men”. Maybe that’s how we can make a difference this season, and help bring some sanity back to this holy time. Let’s help bring “peace on earth” one kind word, one thoughtful deed, one embrace or smile at a time.

Lead out… make a difference this holiday season… you may not be able to change the entire world, but you can change one person’s world, if only for a moment. Wish them a Merry Christmas, but BE the “peace on earth” for that moment in their life that the season is meant to embody. Merry Christmas everyone… May your Christmas season be filled with love, blessings, family and joy… but most of all, may it be filled with peace.