Each year many anticipate the feeling of Christmas joy, yet the general nature of these high holy days (Holidays) send most folks through a gauntlet of human emotions.

To embrace the true meaning of Christmas you must embrace pure unconditional love itself.  Although, the nature of unconditional love and its purpose often confounds the logical mind.

As mere mortal beings, we did not create love instead we are the product of love's good intention. We all strive to be embraced with the warm and nurturing qualities of love, yet often it eludes us. 

So what does true love have to do with the purpose of our Christmas Season? Everything imaginable, and whether you’re ready or not it’s that “Love” season once again for all of us holiday buckaroos. Its time to put on those colorful and often wildly decorated holiday outfits and hit the streets with as many sincere “Merry Christmas” greetings as you can muster up.

Personally I love Christmas, and as an adult I can’t remember one Christmas that didn’t somehow represent the now classic film Christmas Vacation.  I honestly don’t believe it is possible to go through this highly celebrated 5-week season from Thanksgiving to New Year without some kind of emotional stumbling.

The sad thing about the unbridled power of love during this holiday season is that it can express itself in extreme highs and lows. Maybe it is possible for some folks to walk unscathed along this holiday causeway while the rest of us mere mortals run the Holiday gauntlet of ups and downs, but I doubt it. 

I appreciated the length of the Holiday Season as it helps me prepare for the big day. First we celebrate Thanksgiving, which reminds us to be thankful for what we have.  This year has really put to test our thankfulness. We have all heard the statement “less is more” yet lately it should be changed to “less is at least something.”  Thanksgiving is a good time to take an inventory of our lives, a good warm up for more holiday tests to come. We all have things to be thankful for, no matter what position we are currently in. If you pass the Thanksgiving test feeling some appreciation for your life’s journey so far, it’s now time to get revved up for the big one, Christmas.

Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year are not just historical holidays per se, they are also emotional examinations of our nature as a species and a spirit. Even though we mere mortals have chosen these dates, only a higher power could have aligned the purpose of their true intent.

Christmas and Love are meant to walk hand-in-hand though the grip may seem exasperating.  Remember true love is to be given unconditionally. To understand the emotions of the Christmas Holiday season you must take into account that, “this is only a test” and love will test you most certainly. Why? To test you, is its only way to prove itself. The best way to pass the love test is through selfless acts of kindness.

The true meaning of Christmas is based on the virgin birth of the Lord and recognizing its full meaning. That child wrapped in swaddling cloth is the root of the most untainted love, both pure and simple.

As little children we all start out innocent and naturally full of love. It’s what we do with or what has been done to that innocence that can affect our future ability to love or to be loved. 

Love must be shown as a test of our faith in Him who was born for our sakes. That’s why Christmas is not only the recognition of “Love Himself,” it is also a test of love that we must face each year in order to pass into the New Year where once again we can find hope and faith in our future. Life would be truly empty without hope, faith and love.

Even folks who don’t profess a faith or some that are devoted to other faiths often participate in the Christmas Celebration joining in the spirit of Love, because Love is not a religion, it’s a human emotion, natural to the welfare of our being.

Love whatever its focus, is what drives us, it often sets the goals and purpose of our ambitions, whether it’s the love for another, love for our achievements or the hollow love of money. Love was meant to heal and nurture not just gratify the senses.

Personally, I love the simplicity of the season with its humble accents and holiday traditions. I also enjoy the lights and creative decorations of the holiday season. During the holiday season I long to go for rides in the evening and enjoy the exterior illumination and the decorative displays.

I like to go shopping just to be in the atmosphere of it all, yet I don’t enjoy the holiday traffic or the hustlin’ and busslin’ of the impatient power shoppers who are struggling with too much to do and too little time to accomplish it all. Mrs. Highlander and I try to sneak through the cracks of time for our holiday shopping journeys as to not feel pressured.  The holiday’s should be joyous not torturous, its up to us to know the difference.

Like it or not the season’s “Love Fest” will have its way once again and I choose to enjoy it.  I am sure I will eat more than I should and plan a sensible diet and exercise program beginning next year; or at least get into good enough shape to be able to slack off after the last leaf of the season falls to the ground, and once again gain a few pounds the next Holiday Season.

I’m also going to enjoy sipping a few of those rum lace holiday drinks along with some hot-spiced wine in the privacy of my home. I must interject that drinking and driving is wrong and dangerous to all and drinking and driving in the mountains where centrifugal force meets gravitational pull, well you do the math. 

Mrs. Highlander and I have already attended several holiday gatherings and will be heading out to a few more before the season is over to enjoy good friends and new acquaintances, all the while mustering up as many “Merry Christmas’s” as possible.

With the difficulty of the current economic times Mrs. Highlander and I plan on spending half of our Christmas gift budget on those less fortunate than ourselves.  We are taking our granddaughter shopping with us allowing her to make the choices for the children.  We are proud to say she is very excited about it.  Children as well as adults need to know others do care during these troubled times.

Mrs. Highlander and I will bake dozens of homemade cookies, her specialty being oatmeal peanut butter pecan cookies and her thick dark chocolate brownie like macadamia nut and white chocolate chip cookies that are famous throughout the land and in limited supply due to time.

We are fortunate enough that our lovely daughter Tara, her lovely husband Tim (using lovely should make him cringe) and our beautiful granddaughter Maddie live only 15-minutes away allowing us all to spend Christmas Day together in these glorious Blue Ridge Mountains.

The good news for next year is that we’ll have another grandchild joining the Highlander 2010 Christmas party, a real blessing and something wonderful to look forward to.

We send our love and affection to my sister Becky and brother-in-law Bob who lost their only child and son; he is greatly missed. You can definitely say their love for one another has kept them going, unconditional love is a powerful thing under such trying circumstances. We are glad to have both of them still with us even though we are separated by the Mason-Dixon line.

To our good friend Jo Crowe who lost the love of her life, her husband Steve, we send our heart felt holiday blessings. Jo’s children, her loving memories of Steve and her love for the Lord have given her the strength to carry on under such trying circumstances.

For myself, I’ve often feel torn between my two personalities, mountain recluse and business owner.  From Christmas Day till New Year Eve, Mrs. Highlander and I will lay low and enjoy the leftovers.  I’ll chop some wood to keep the wood stoves nice and toasty while we spend quality time enjoying our peaceful mountain life.  We are likely to quietly relax on December 31st and watch New Year’s Eve slip silently past the midnight call as we anticipate the beginning of another year with hopes and dreams of greater things to come.

It’s hard to sum up the Christmas Season, its meaning and purpose rises so much higher than our mere mortal comprehension.  Yet it is within our spirit to once again see the raw innocence that “Love” was meant to be for those who are open to its nurturing life sustaining qualities.

For greater understanding and answers to what we call Love I turned to "The Book” as a guide to the true meaning of Christmas, exploring the scriptures that brought this most significant High Holy Day into being and have posted them at the end of this story. 

From all of us at the Highlander we wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year….

We invite you to continue to join us next year for our further adventures throughout the Great Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains all in the Name of Love.

God Bless….The Highlander

Isaiah 7:14…Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Matthew 1:23…Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Isaiah 49:13…Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.

Isaiah 54:10…For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.

Isaiah 55:9…For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:12…For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Matthew 5:46…For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?

John 3:16…For God so love the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 13:34-35…A new commandment give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another…By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Isaiah 52:3…For thus saith the Lord, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.

John 15:13…Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Romans 13:10…Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

The Bible, King James Version

If you haven't read all of the Highlander Classic Christmas Tales....now is the time...

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