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December 23rd, 2009 by Dr. Phil

The True Meaning of Christmas

Christmas family2So the other day, I heard one more talking-head television commentator announce that Christmas isn’t like it used to be, that the economy is still tough, and that everyone is cutting back, trying to do more with much less. Gee, I said, thanks for pointing that out, because without your clarification, parents across America wouldn’t have noticed.

On reflection, what I really thought was, “Wait a minute. We don’t want to pronounce the Christmas holiday DOA or even seriously wounded because we have less to spend this year. Have we forgotten that this is the time of year when less is supposed to be more?”

Think about why we really love this holiday. Our favorite Christmas stories are never the ones about what someone accumulated, but the ones about someone being impacted, even transformed, by the power of a particular emotion brought on by giving or by the nostalgia of a long-forgotten memory revisited. The stories we love during this time of the year are never elaborate tales about those blessed with great bounty. They are about small things: a boy with a crutch, a dirty-faced but hopeful child, an old angel trying to earn his wings as he takes care of a broken-down banker, wonderful and memorable music, good smells from a warm kitchen and, of course, an infant in a manger.

The Christmas holidays are always able to survive through tough times, because they are not about who we are or what we have. They are always about who we want, hope and strive to be. They are about us getting together as families — even if our families are not perfect or always particularly happy. They are about us reaffirming friendships — even if it’s with friends with whom we’ve, sadly, lost touch. The holidays are about us telling the ones we love most just how much we love them, and then telling them again and again.

“They were not a handsome family,” Charles Dickens wrote of the Cratchits in A Christmas Carol. “They were not well dressed; their shoes were far from being water-proof; their clothes were scanty … But they were happy, grateful, pleased with one another, and contented with the time.”

My holiday wish for my family and friends, and for all of you, is to be contented with the time. My wish is that we all choose to embrace all the things that you don’t find under a tree — the qualities of faith and hope, of kindness and commitment.

Merry Christmas from all the McGraws and from everyone at the Dr. Phil show.

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45 Responses to “The True Meaning of Christmas”

  1. Donna says:

    One of the things that became a Christmas tradition is the “Baking of Candy Cane Cakes”. I would bake a “Homemade” Yeast bread, braid it, and shape it into “Candy Canes”. (Filled with dried fruit or cinnamon & brown sugar) It would then be decorated with frosting & cherries. The children would take them to our neighbors, singing, “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”. This was one way that I tried to teach my children the gift of giving. This tradition of “Baking Candy Cane Cakes…has now continued into the next generation. Merry Christmas!

  2. Sahvyn says:

    Usually we do the traditional family gathering with presents and dinner. We are from Michigan on the Lake Michigan side and we plan on spending our family Christmas at a place called the Double JJ Ranch just north of our city. The Double JJ has a waterpark/snow sliding/and I believe sleigh rides. We will do this in place of presents and the family dinner. It eliminates a mess in someones home and we can use it as a mini get away. Personally I am not sure if this will fulfill my personal holiday wishes…but I am willing to try something new.

  3. Glynis says:

    We are staying local for Christmas this year. Lunch with my family & dinner with my husband’s family on Christmas Day. We purchased less gifts this year & the gifts we did purchase were heartfelt & practical. My folks & I quit exchanging gifts years ago. It seemed counterproductive to be buying more “stuff” when all of us were trying to get rid of “stuff.” The spirit of the holidays is with us. We are enjoying the movies, the music, being together, we just aren’t spending as much this year. We probably bought more for our little 2 1/2 year old nephew. One bag is clothes & the other is toys & things to occupy him. Our nephew keeps saying he wants a “Christmas box” for Christmas, but his parents tell us he just likes to open presents, so we think he just wants presents to open up & it doesn’t matter how big or small they are.

  4. Don says:

    Yes, Merry Christmas! Nice to see this term used rather than Happy Holidays or some other version, we’re even starting to lose the Merry Christmas term here in Australia, where it’s really, really hot at the moment, we could use a dash of that snow you guys have happening over there in the US!

  5. Leslie says:

    Unfortunately my son has gotten into the whole me, me, me, it’s all about me phase (actually he’s been there for quite some time) and it’s starting to rub off on my daughter. My big problem is that I haven’t been able to find a way to show him where we could be if we didn’t have family helping us. He’s so selfish and it’s just getting worse as Christmas approaches. I’ve tried to tell him that the world doesn’t revolve around him and that there are people out there who have nothing but he’s just not getting it. Any suggestions?

  6. resah says:

    having been diagnosed with cancer in september of 97, i found myself unabe to work because of chemo side effects. my daughter lizi, was 5 then and we were putting up the tree and putting decorations on the tree when i began to explain to her that we were not going to have as much money to buy presents that year. not at all affected by what i said she continued to hang ornaments and said, “mom that’s alright because christmas is about family and love.” well, i knew right then and there that if i died because of the cancer, i could die in peace, knowing that there was a noble heart beating in the soul of my child.
    having money or not having money has very little to do with the Spirit of Christmas. it’s about the giving of ourselves. we can give of ourselves even if we are dead broke. a kind word spoken to a hurting heart, a warm hug, a gentle touch, listening to a friend vent, all these things are free and are what we all really need!

  7. Ann Kennedy says:

    Responding to Resah,
    God bless you and yours. I agree with you 100%. Have a Merry Merry Christmas and may 2010 find you well throughout the year.

  8. Linda says:

    Merry Christmas to you and your family! I am celebrating it with my parents, sister, niece, grandmother, uncle and cousin. I am usually never sick but right now I am having a cold, so I am going to try my best not to infect any of them.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Dr. Phil- Merry Christmas to you, Robin & your family to. :-) There are so many traditions in my family. From baking cookies, The ham, to the kids with our calendar we have to count down the days. But for me it’s always just nice to be around my family & spending time with them. Going to church on christmas eve is something that is a special thing for us to do to. After all that is the true meaning of christmas.

  10. Sandra says:

    No Dr. Phil
    This is the true meaning of Christmas, that is just “your” interpretation.

    THE exact date of Christ’s birth is not known,” says the Encyclopedia of Early Christianity. Still, millions of professed Christians around the globe celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25. This date, however, appears nowhere in the Bible. Was Jesus really born in December?

    Although the Bible does not give a specific date for Jesus’ birth, it does provide evidence that he was not born in December. Also, from secular evidence we can learn why December 25 was adopted as the date for celebrating his birth.

    The Bible provides evidence that Jesus was not born in December

    Why Not a December Birth?
    Jesus was born in the Judean city of Bethlehem. Luke’s Gospel reports: “There were also in that same country shepherds living out of doors and keeping watches in the night over their flocks.” (Luke 2:4-8) This was not unusual. “The flocks had to spend the greater part of the year in the open air,” says the book Daily Life in the Time of Jesus. But would the shepherds be outside with their flocks on a cold December night? The book says: “They passed the winter under cover; and from this alone it may be seen that the traditional date for Christmas, in the winter, is unlikely to be right, since the Gospel says that the shepherds were in the fields.”

    Would shepherds spend the night outdoors with their flocks in the snow?

    This conclusion is corroborated by another detail in Luke’s Gospel account: “In those days a decree went forth from Caesar Augustus for all the inhabited earth to be registered; (this first registration took place when Quirinius was governor of Syria;) and all people went traveling to be registered, each one to his own city.”—Luke 2:1-3.

    Augustus probably ordered this registration as a census in order to gather information for use in connection with taxation and military conscription. To comply with the order, Mary, despite being heavy with child, accompanied her husband, Joseph, on the journey of some 90 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Now think about it. Does it seem likely that Augustus—a ruler who rarely interfered with local government—would require a people who were already inclined to revolt to make such a long trip in winter?

    Significantly, most historians and Bible scholars reject December 25 as Jesus’ date of birth. No doubt you will find such information in an encyclopedia to which you have access. Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia states: “There is general agreement that Jesus was not born on December 25.”

    Why December 25 Was Chosen
    Hundreds of years after Jesus’ death, December 25 was chosen as the date of his birth. Why? Numerous historians believe that the time of year that became the Christmas season was actually a period when pagan festivities were celebrated.

    For instance, Encyclopædia Britannica states: “One widespread explanation of the origin of this date is that December 25 was the Christianizing of the dies solis invicti nati (‘day of the birth of the unconquered sun’), a popular holiday in the Roman Empire that celebrated the winter solstice as a symbol of the resurgence of the sun, the casting away of winter and the heralding of the rebirth of spring and summer.”

    The Encyclopedia Americana informs us: “The reason for establishing December 25 as Christmas is somewhat obscure, but it is usually held that the day was chosen to correspond to pagan festivals that took place around the time of the winter solstice, when the days begin to lengthen, to celebrate the ‘rebirth of the sun.’ . . . The Roman Saturnalia (a festival dedicated to Saturn, the god of agriculture, and to the renewed power of the sun), also took place at this time.” Such festivals usually included licentious behavior by their participants, who engaged in unbridled and riotous merrymaking. Significantly, that behavior has been characteristic of many Christmas celebrations today.

    How to Honor Christ
    Some feel that regardless of what the actual date is, Christians should still commemorate Jesus’ birth. In their minds such a celebration, when observed in a dignified manner, is an appropriate way to honor Christ.

    The birth of Jesus is indeed an important event in the Bible account. The Bible says that when Jesus was born, a multitude of angels appeared suddenly and erupted in joyful praise to God, saying: “Glory in the heights above to God, and upon earth peace among men of goodwill.” (Luke 2:13, 14) However, it is noteworthy that nowhere in the Bible is there even a suggestion that Jesus’ birthday should be celebrated. In contrast, there is a specific command to commemorate his death, which Jehovah’s Witnesses do once a year. (Luke 22:19) That is one way to honor Jesus.

    On the last night of his human life, Jesus said: “You are my friends if you do what I am commanding you.” (John 15:14) He also said: “If you love me, you will observe my commandments.” (John 14:15) Clearly, there is no better way to honor Jesus Christ than to learn and follow his teachings

  11. Michelle Mullins says:

    Someone gave my kids a couple of gifts which mean they will have something to open this year. But my plan is to give them coupons for different things like game night, no chores for the day, movie of the night pick, etc. As long as my kids are happy. I have MS and unable to work and disablility only pays the bills, but we are together and that is all that counts.

  12. Laura says:

    To me Christmas was always about the tradition of the thing we DID. Sure I remember special gift received as a child but the memories of baking with my mom, playing games with my brothers and great aunts, dinners, looking at christmas lights through town and special church services are what I remember most. While at times we get carried away with trying to buy all the gifts we think we need to buy, I am reminded by my kids that it is the traditions they want most.

    This year we are all doing christmas in different places. I am in TX with friends and so we are going to try to make sure that the seven year old in the house makes some memories such as baking cookie for Santa, making presents for family and friends, and staying up waiting for Santa! There will be cousins, Grandma’s, Aunts and Uncles, and lots of memories made! As it should be.

    So may all our worries of jobs and bills and heart aches and disappointments be put aside for just awhile and the child like joy of the season be ours for even just a day!

  13. Jana Lutz says:

    I don’t know if times are hard because of the economy or if they are hard because of people. It used to be that FAMILY meant FAMILY. Holidays were all about FAMILY. The greatest gift was FAMILY.
    We would all cram into my Grandmother’s house, (She had 10 kids but only the 4 boys who lived close came), at least 150-175 of us in a small 5 room house. (bathroom, kitchen, livingroom and two bedrooms) Sure it was crowded but it was great! No one was angry because the kids were rough housing. No one was complaining about anyone else. There was always lots of talk about remember when and can you believe how this one or that one grew? Or did you taste what they brought or I am so full but I have to try some of this or it would not be Christmas.
    Now that Grandma is gone, as well as Mom, Pop doesn’t want to be happy. The kids are only intereseted in getting what they can get and getting gone with it and I am left with the feeling of what in the hell are we doing here?

  14. LindaRH says:

    A heartfelt Merry Christmas to you and yours too, Dr Phil. Keep up the good work and we’ll keep our chins up!

  15. Charles Dickens Christmas reminds me of Christmas at grandmothers. Simply the best. I wish my family hadn’t missed a one because as what Dr. Phil is fond of… that’s comfortably familiar to me. So… if not a good time to travel now… pencil in a time in nicer weather and use Holiday time to recoup rather than stress at peak travel times. I think living in same City with both sides of family can have its perks and definitely something to consider when getting married or attending college if cannot afford to travel. Oh well, like someone said that was Dr. Phil’s opinion… even though mine is mostly like Dr. Phil’s most the time… my opinion. Pre-marriage counseling says to share Holidays. IF bad weather stay home & if sick stay home yet if can… don’t miss a one MERRY CHRISTMAS. IMO

    Cooking family recipes can be a way of reconnecting with loved ones so I was disheartened THE range bit the dust before Thanksgiving and is still biting dust permanently. We’re feasting on can chicken soup microwaved and I’m old fashion and prefer stove top cooking like potato soup grandmother made if I felt badly.

    I can close my eyes and my most favorite parts of Holidays pop in view of mom and her mom and me, we gals, chit chatting over dinner we were making with guys watching football. My grandmother made a few things VERY WELL for Holidays as use to own her own bakery. We always took a nap after dinner too after we put away left overs and washed dishes. Does anyone else do naps after Holiday dinners where ever there’s a place to stretch out?

    Toys aren’t a big deal cause, guess what, most are getting some of same things so likely one of your child’s friends will have and be bored with soon (or gladly share). As a child, kids LOVED showing off their toys to me and I loved seeing them excited about. Well, jump rope & board games as TOTALLY never got Barbie (dolls) yet the advent of “Build a Bear” might have had me begging for… Although I hope not as not cheap and, as I said, we were the Charles Dickens “Less is more Family” family. My grandmother was thrifty like me and mother the decorator extravaganza like Robin.

    Dr. Phil is right TIME is a great gift at the Holiday so you might wonder why I’m writing this? Got a sore throat & cough on my visit to Norman two weeks ago that has turned into a respiratory infection so my menu today includes double strength Bactrim and feel a bit better. Lynn has cough too now so he canceled for one of the first years ever at his mom’s… Actually… he was saying he was dropping by gifts and we were called and asked not to until next week in case contagious. WISE. So, I’m sitting up hyrdrating. Likely, go to bed after next antibiotic at 7:30.

    The plus that Lynn has now even though I wish he hadn’t got like I didn’t get when he was sick in November… is doctor had said he couldn’t decide whether to send me to ER since a heart blockage could cause a persistent cough or treat me for secondary bacterial infection. H1N1 test $25 more so didn’t take that. My early gift today was waking up and, now, feeling a bit better. Lynn looks better too.

    I think next year on my list may be a flu and pneumonia shot. So sad that there’s so much drug abuse that you have to ask pharmacist for NyQuil D and sign for as if Lynn hadn’t asked where Vicks Formula 44D was at pharmacy wouldn’t have known no Vicks 44D there and have to sign for liquid decongestants. Somehow, only $2… Guess his seniors discount as NyQuil on shelf about $6 for same size. IDK… Weird. I’m not mixing with antibiotic myself. My immune system didn’t zap, a week of NyQuil didn’t zap so hopefully Bactrim does and DO feel bit better. UGH to tenth power though. Think cracked a rib coughing because crack sound yet didn’t want to pay for x-ray. Used Christmas money to go to doctor yet worth it to feel better.

    I was aggravated I got sick two weeks ago & still sick… since wanted to drive to my home town to Christmas Dinner at Norman High School since learned Montford Inn open Christmas. Might feel good enough tomorrow yet weather not user friendly to drive as Blizzard Conditions up that way. I was wanting to take a truck full of items to give to persons at the dinner at Norman High School Christmas Day.

    I think I would have had enough gifts for everyone to have something and could have drawn names for pretty red Radio Flyer wagon and antique child rocker. You know I could have had a number for everything and persons just reach in a Christmas stocking and if didn’t like could trade. Oh well, I think since Dr. Phil Show never wanted these items Lynn pink slipped for Dr. Phil to begin a GETTING REAL GOING GREEN Thrift Store to benefit Dr. Phil Foundation… Our next stop may be Salvation Army… I know they say “It is the Thought that counts.” Yet for Christmas I wanted to drive to my home town since community Christmas dinner the year I took a teen & her disabled parents years ago tasted a lot like grandmother’s and, to me, that’s Christmas. Doing what makes your and others hearts sing “Joy to the World”.

    (Google symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.)

    One year, 1982 or 1983, family calling to see why I hadn’t shown up for Christmas Dinner saved my life. Carbon monoxide poisoning from using open oven for heat in 17 degree weather since electric heater broke. Not one of my wiser ideas. So IF you feel odd, headachy, and when you leave the house you feel better could be CARBON MONOXIDE poisoning. Just Google symptoms. And if anyone on your list doesn’t have a CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR or working smoke alarm… a gift that saves lives. Totally forgot how to do and that I took and so retook typing and a math course in college. I was lucky though because carbon monoxide poisoning can kill you so if someone in winter months IS acting disoriented, sleeping a lot etc… TIS THE SEASON TO GET A CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR

    WE HAVE SNOW IN DALLAS BTW… Weather folks say there’ll be a WHITE CHRISTMAS which doesn’t often happen. Feeling sort of weak so that’s it for me. Our menu tomorrow is microwave canned chicken soup yet I wish was like grandmother’s. Even if range not broken since before Thanksgiving I don’t think I’d feel like fixing.

    Feel better today so might yet it is what it is and sure didn’t feel like shopping for. Oh, and y’all beautiful spring weather in Dallas past couple of weeks I missed. I did have bedroom window open with my side kick Collie Mix, Tigger, next to me. He does house calls as doggie therapist etc.


  17. Joyce says:

    Yes thanks to someone stepping in the boys are going to have a good christmas and the big miracle this year!!!!!!! I was told that I couldnt sign up my 13 yr old daughter for anything because she is “too Old”"”. But her therapist found out and went and got her some stuff for christmas… I am totally shocked and amazed that a therapist would do this.. She is a great woman and really cares about Shawna. (Yes at 13 she sees a therapist, because of the things she has been through with her birth mother, the lies and all that. And she is a cutter.) I am very grateful to this woman who cared enough to go out 2 days before Christmas and do this for Shawna.
    And you are right Dr Phil Christmas is not about how much you get… We celebrate Christmas because of Jesus Christ who came to earth many years ago. It is his birth we celebrate…

    Although I know the kids are going to have a good christmas. it is still a sad time… My first Christmas without my dad… And my cat is missing.
    But if we dont get too much ice around here we are going to moms for dinner. Sadly my hubbys family said they didnt want to do anything for christmas this year… He was adopted along with his brothers and sister, so every year they made it a point for them to get together just them, but this year they didnt want to do it anymore. Sad.

  18. sharon says:

    Dear Phil & Robin, Jay & Erica, Jordan and Maggie,

    Have the very merriest and most blessed Christmas you’ve ever had! This is my little gift to you, I wrote it a few years ago and hope it may touch your hearts.

    with love and thankfulness for you,


    p.s. since I don’t twitter, if you happen to see this here…Have a happy birthday, sweet Robin aka soon to be a grandma Blossom! I pray God’s blessings continue to pour out on, and through, you this year. (psst I’m a december baby too) ;)


    Oooh, outside we hear the carollers singin’
    All of the children laughin’ and playin’
    Good will towards men and we know once again that it’s Christmas time
    Oooh, snowflakes are fallin’ while fires are glowin’
    Family and friends with love that keeps growin’
    Here in our hearts we need the true meaning of this Christmas time

    Here we can find Christmas in our hearts
    Loving and giving, that’s where it starts
    Don’t have to wait for a certain day or a season to come
    God sent us His Love so we can have Christmas in our hearts

    Love in our hearts, smiles everywhere
    Those precious memories each of us share
    Please tell my why we can’t live Christmas every day of the year

    2nd verse
    Oooh, maybe those packages tied up with ribbon
    Can teach us of Love’s greatest Gift ever given
    Help us we pray to let every day be like Christmas time
    Oooh, after the tree’s put away with the trimmin’s
    And all that remains is the Love that we’ve given
    Then here in our hearts we’ve found the true meaning of this Christmas time

    2nd Chorus
    Here we can find Christmas in our hearts
    Loving and giving, right where we are
    Don’t have to wait for a certain day or a season to come
    God sent us His Love so we can have Christmas in our hearts
    So every day, help us we pray
    To have Christmas in our hearts

    “Thanks be to God for His indescribable Gift” aka JESUS!

  19. Patricia Paddock says:

    for christmas we try to make something for each other. I all so have a tradition on christmas morning where all my kids and grandkids come to my house and I fix brunch and then we open presents. I have done this for years and I am hoping my kids take on this tradition.

  20. Lorraine Ryan says:

    Merry Christmas to the entire McGraw family! Remember the meaning of this time of year — funny, though, we were never told to remember Jesus’ birth, but to remember His death (which is why He was born). Feliz Navidad!! Vesele Vanoce, Jutdlime pivdluarit ukiortame pivdluaritlo!, Joyeux Noel, Fröhliche Weihnachten, Mele Kalikimaka, Buone Feste Natalizie, God Jul, Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom, ErryMay-HistmasCray… you get the idea :) And may 2010 be your best ever!!

  21. Shannon Fowler says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,

    Christmas Star

    A Christmas star is what you are
    A heavenly beam who traveled so far
    To bring light to the world
    And all that you are
    With your majestic grace
    And elegant trace
    Of your innocent face
    Born in faith
    To a world of sinners
    To shed disgrace
    Among the race
    And teach love
    To give and take
    Transform our fear into something great
    Reminding us ourselves its not too late
    To be created in the image
    Of all that you envision
    As you help direct our paths
    and inner vision
    While we grow in exact precision

    Merry Christmas!

    I sent a letter to you explaining my situation along with my story and hope you can help me. It is my desire to do something with my life, pursue my goals and dreams.

  22. Chrysalis says:

    “Think about why we really love this holiday.” I love it for the Savior that came for us all.

  23. Ms. Stephenson says:

    “Do you hear what I hear?”


    and “Little Drummer Boy” Reminds me of my dearly departed parents voices.
    Happy Birthday up in heaven, dad, Christmas 1923 – Easter 1992




  24. Jeannie says:

    Bacon and chocolate malts for Christmas! That became our family tradition when I was a small girl. There were 6 of us kids in the family. My mom asked what would make a special Christmas morning breakfast. Since we were only allowed 2 pieces of bacon a piece (when we did get it) we decided that a real treat would be all the bacon each of us could eat plus we really wanted chocolate malts. So, I am now 51 years old and my family has bacon and choclate malts every Christmas morning. My own daughter has grown to love this tradition and says she will carry this on in her own family one day! Most people cannot believe that combination, but you should try it, it is really quite tasty!

  25. oldgirl54 says:

    Unfortunately the bad memories outway the good. BUT, a special wish and prayer that all your Christmas wishes are granted this year!

  26. Paradoxis says:

    Let us not forget those who feel so bereft and alone that they suicide at this time every year. Let us ask ourselves why, and what can we do about it.

  27. Sandra says:

    I would like to make and apology to those (if any) who may have read my post in regards to Jesus birth could not have taken place on December 25th.
    I am sorry that on the day I guess that means so much to so many people may not have been the appropriate time to make such a strong statement, unfortunately there is no delete button on the site after you have chosen to submit, something I may have done after I had submitted it.
    I believe why I acted rashly was out of an extreme sence of righteous indignation, ( yes righteous indignation) but it was not directed in a way that I would have liked it to have its best results.
    I do believe there are ones out there (John 4:24) that are more interested in honoring Jesus in the way “He” wants, not the way “they” want. But this is not the time or place to do so. So I apologize to Dr. Phil and all those, again if they even took the time to read, wouldn’t want to think my post is even relevent to anyone, but there it is. I’m sorry for the comment, but not sorry for the conviction.

  28. Susan says:

    Visits From St. Nick

    ‘Tis the life after Christmas with 2 little boys,

    And the Christmases always were filled with such joys.

    But why the surprise of our memories dear?

    Fond memories linger for folks far and near.

    But today I hear parents whose worst Christmas fear

    Is less money will ruin the Holiday cheer.

    As a mom who had little to give to my guys,

    I saw visions of presents each year in their eyes

    And they made it just fine on each Christmas Day

    Though many around them had more things than they

    Both boys made a list, but were always aware

    That Santa delivered to kids everywhere.

    No guarantees for requests made by each

    (The toys in commercials were out of my reach)

    Santa was giving to more than one tyke

    Besides, he might know other toys they would like.

    And yet Christmas morning in our little place

    Each lit up my world with the joy on his face

    No fireplace with chimney, no big-budget toys,

    But the magic of Santa was there for my boys.

    They got more than others expecting alot

    They found joy in whatever gifts that they got.

    And my grown sons will tell you those years were not tough,

    ‘Cause it’s all about magic and not about “stuff”.

  29. Anita says:

    Dear Sandra, You have a right to your opinion as to how to celebrate Christmas, that is YOUR opinion and right. As a Christian, I know why I celebrate Christmas and I am satisfied and firm in my Christian belief. As to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, they interpret the Bible in their own way. And it is very different than Protestant beliefs. That is thier right to do so. One of my best friends is a Witness, it is her choice to believe the way she does. I do not try to convert her, she does not try to convert me. I do not embrace all beliefs, but I love and pray for all. And I love my personal Savior, Jesus Christ and He loves me.

  30. Christina says:

    Amen Amen
    I 100% agree with you Dr Phil.
    My No 3 son was complaining just before christmas about how he dislikes christmas because it’s all about the profits companies make and not about what the real meaning of Christmas is.
    I said to him well its up to us to show everyone what christmas is about, and he said and how are we suppose to do that?
    I said bye being a family, celbrating christmas together, and through this sharing and giving and being blessed.
    I said I love Christmas now as much as I did when I was a child, because at christmas time the family are all together, with all their imperfections, different personalities, and differences of opinions.
    Yet we all come in sink, we all connect, we share, we laugh, and we all enjoy each others company, and more importantly we all love.
    I think we do exactly what God would want us to do on Christmas, after all isnt that what God done for us when he sent his beautiful son on this most amazing and joyous day.
    And why because God Loves all.
    Gosh I Love Christmas.

  31. Perhaps, my hubs and blogs would help..:) Towards the end of my hub “My Story-Chapter-1-Be-Thankful! you will see an article that my best friend and fellow reader asked me to post about “Christ in Christmas”. Quite frankly-I couldn’t put it better myself.:) Also, my hub tells some of my story with connecting hubs that tell more. I have humbled myself–not for pity– rather–in hopes that I can give others motivation t keep going—Because –I AM.
    Our small community also lost 3 young people within a month of Christmas, all for different reasons; one was an accident involving a tractor–she was a close friend and mother of 3 children; another because of a brain tumour; and the other because of abrain anurysm. I dedicated a video in their memory on my hub … the video is “Calling All Angels”.
    I have had very proud moments and not so proud moments…to the point of despair…………………..but I will always get back up and appreciate everything and everyone special in my life. I am very proud of that! Christmas———reminds us to be all that we can, and all that w should be, and without Christ we wouldn’t even have the opportunity. God Bless! The best gift in the world was already given to me, I have my faith , my children, family, and friends. The only next best gift I could recieve is knowing that I somehow have helped or touched other lives in a positive way! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year To You All!!
    Deborah MacPherson
    Your Canadian Country Chick! :)

  32. Cindy says:

    Merry Christmas Dr. Phil, Robin, and family.

    I have alot of good Christmas memories from past Christmas’s with my parents who died 20 years ago. Even though they died 20 years ago I think about them everyday.

    I can still picture sitting in the living room one Christmas watching my mom decorating our Christmas tree. I offered to help her and she said no that she could do it. I remember her baking cookies, fudge, brownies and cake a few weeks ahead of Christmas and freezing it.

    She would sit out candy jars with fudge in them.

    I remember one Christmas going to a farm to pick out a real Christmas tree, with my dad. My dad loved the smell of real pine Christmas trees.

    I remember one Christmas going to pick out toys with my Dad.

    I remember one winter driving down the road with my Dad. Out of the blue he told me he had a manger in the back of his car.

    If my parents were here today I could tell them thanks for the values they gave me towards life. These memories and values I try to live everyday of my life.

    With these values they gave me I will remember for the rest of my life. I am sure they are in heaven looking down. Merry Christmas Mom and Dad until I can someday be reunited with you.

  33. Janeen says:

    Anita, it’s not just Jehovah’s Witnesses that do not celebrate Christmas. My husband and I are not witnesses but we do not celebrate Christmas. There are Christians who take their religious beliefs from a time just after Jesus’ death, when the Church was just being established. This would have been considered a sect of the Jewish religion even though these believers would have been followers of Christ. They would have celebrated the Sabbath on a Saturday, followed the Biblical Holy Days, and in general, lived as Jesus would have. Things changed during the next 400 years though and that religion was washed out by religions that followed, including Catholicism which is what most Christian religions are based on today.

    A church was formed sometime during the 1900’s called The Worldwide Church of God. That church split after the founder died and the church itself went the direction of mainstream Christian religion. Now there are many split-offs of this church and all of them follow Biblical Holy Days, the original Sabbath, and do not celebrate Christmas or Easter. About the best name I can think of for those of us who follow these beliefs is simply Sabbath Keepers.

    I hope that what everyone remembers about this time of year (whether they celebrate Christmas or not) is that what’s important is family. And we should remember that all year around.

  34. Anita says:

    Hi Janeen, It’s interesting to learn of other beliefs and customs. One thing I would say about my Witness friend is that her belief has caused problems within her family, i.e., her mother and sisters. Sometimes I think my friends religion brings her more angst that joy. She has stopped going to her mother’s for Thanksgiving, because it makes her angry to hear them speaking of the upcoming Christmas season and thier plans for it, such as gift giving. She feels that they are being offensive to her and that they shouldn’t speak of Christmas in her presence. I don’t speak of Christmas in her presence because if I did, we could not be friends. I don’t find it to be a problem. I am firm in my belief and do not find it necessary to press my beliefs on her. I do pray for her daily. She also is offended if cashiers and others wish her a “Merry Christmas” during the season and so she gets her groceries at the beginning of Dec. and stays away from stores until after Christmas. In the years I have been friends with her, she is very seldom joyous in her belief. She has a lot of anger. We like to go to football and basketball games together, especially as our husbands have no interest in them. The reality is, she is really not supposed to be hanging out with me because I’m not of her faith, she told me so herself. I suppose I could be a threat to her in some way, I’m not sure how.She routinely goes out in service, what my church would call visitation, to try and spread the Witness gospel to others.(Actually, when someone becomes a Witness, it is understood they will go out in service, they don’t have a choice, but she says she likes doing it.Once a week. I ask her if it was more a time of fellowship with her church members than anything else, because not many welcome them. She was just thoughtful and didn’t answer me.) They are very seldom invited into homes and sometimes treated badly. I can’t embrace her religion but we can be friends. She became a Witness about 15 years ago after several years of intense studying. It is what she chooses to believe and I feel that is her right. We do have freedom of religion in this country. I guess what is hard for me to understand is that it doesn’t seem to bring her any joy, that I can see, anyway. In your religion, are you offended by others who celebrate Christmas or do you respect others beliefs, and go about your own way of worshipping? Even though I don’t believe the way my friend does, I do respect her right to worship in her own way, but, I know that she does not feel the same about others’ right to worship in thier own way. So, the respect aspect is a bit one-sided, but I can live with that.

  35. Sandra says:


    How the Bible’s Answer Brings Real Peace of Mind and ultimately Joy which comes with honoring Jesus in the way we should.

    Jesus teaches us how to gain peace of mind
    For any complex piece of machinery to work properly, it must be used for the purpose and in the manner that its maker intended. Likewise, if we are to avoid damaging ourselves—be it spiritually, mentally, emotionally, or physically—we need to use our life in the way that our Maker intended. Consider how our knowing God’s purpose can bring us peace of mind in the following areas of life.

    When establishing priorities, many today devote their lives to accumulating wealth. However, “those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires,” warns the Bible.—1 Timothy 6:9, 10.

    On the other hand, those who learn to love God rather than money discover the secret of contentment. (1 Timothy 6:7, They appreciate the value of hard work and know that they have an obligation to provide for their own physical needs. (Ephesians 4:28) But they also take seriously Jesus’ words of caution: “No one can slave for two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other. You cannot slave for God and for Riches.”—Matthew 6:24.

    Therefore, instead of making secular work or the pursuit of wealth their top priority, those who love God make the doing of his will their primary concern in life. They know that if their life revolves around the doing of God’s will, then Jehovah God will take care of them. In fact, Jehovah considers himself honor-bound to do so.—Matthew 6:25-33.

    When dealing with people, many put themselves first. Today, the world lacks peace, in large measure because so many people have become “lovers of themselves, . . . having no natural affection.” (2 Timothy 3:2, 3) When someone disappoints them or disagrees with their viewpoint, they give vent to “anger and wrath and screaming and abusive speech.” (Ephesians 4:31) Rather than bringing peace of mind, such a lack of self-control only “stirs up contention.”—Proverbs 15:18.

    By contrast, those who obey God’s command to love their neighbor as themselves are “kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another.” (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13) Even when others do not treat them kindly, they endeavor to imitate Jesus, who when being reviled “did not go reviling in return.” (1 Peter 2:23) Like Jesus, they appreciate that it brings true fulfillment to serve others, even those who may not appreciate what is being done for them. (Matthew 20:25-28; John 13:14, 15; Acts 20:35) Jehovah God gives his spirit to those who imitate his Son, and this spirit produces in their life a genuine sense of peace.—Galatians 5:22

  36. yazmin says:

    Christmas is about finding calmness to find our inner selves & our insights. To cleanse our spirit by recognizing the wrong & being aware of doing good. That way ideas will come & inspirations will grow to wait for the spring.

  37. Janeen says:

    Anita, the religion I’m with is very different from Jehovah’s Witnesses. We don’t go to people’s homes and we don’t have the same rules (though I don’t know all of the rules they have). We do keep the Sabbath and Biblical Holy Days and that does include not buying or selling or working on the Sabbath. We don’t eat pork or seafood because there can be concerns with those animals due to how they were designed. We also don’t eat rabbits or things like that. We’re not told we can’t hang out with others who do not share our faith so that’s not an issue there either.

    It can be a little lonely in December because not everyone understands what we mean when we say we don’t celebrate Christmas. It’s much easier for my husband than it is for me because he’s been doing it longer and it was much easier for him to give up. I don’t mind when people say Merry Christmas but I’m not likely to say Merry Christmas back. One thing I have found is that not celebrating is a little less stressful and a little less disappointing than celebrating was. It was just hard not to have high expectations and put a lot on those expectations and then be disappointed so not celebrating has helped a lot with that. It can be lonely though especially being here in Korea where we don’t have a church to congregate with. It would be much easier if there were others who didn’t celebrate to meet up with.

    I have shared the information about the reasons not to celebrate Christmas. There are some really good articles online but people tend to not appreciate that. There’s not much I can do about another’s beliefs because that is between the person and God but we do not participate in any Christmas activities.

    My daughter’s birthday follows two days later so I tend to focus on that and this year, I was too sick with morning sickness to really care what day it was. lol Plus, the lack of snow and lack of store closings here made it feel not quite like Christmas. Again, we’re in South Korea so things are done a little differently here.

    I’m sorry to hear about your friend. Perhaps she is in a situation where she feels obligated to give those things up because she married into the church and that leaves her some of the anger. I know it wasn’t easy for me to give up Christmas but it has gotten easier as times goes on. The anger may be a result of resentment towards the religion itself but that’s just me speculating. You’re a good friend though to be so supportive of her beliefs. That’s not an easy thing in my experience as most of my family and friends have not been as supportive. Most have found something to say about it and usually not something very positive. The general feeling I get from is that they mock our beliefs or think that they’re are something that people do not have the luxury to do (as in the case of having a whole day of the week off to do nothing).

  38. Linda Rose says:

    Thankyou Dr.Phil for writing so eloquently about the true meaning of Christmas! It has nothing to do with how many or how expensive gifts on e receives. It bugs me when people say they won’t have a good Christmas because they don’t have money for gifts.

    Growing up we were very poor. Our home was a two room cement block building with cement floors my Daddy built and converted to a house. There was one tall window in each room with a single pane of glass. Daddy, Grandma, my two sisters and I lived there through -20 F winters.

    Grandma and my two sisters slept on a double iron bed cross wise with their feet resting on kitchen chairs. I slept in a crib with my feet dangling out the end until I was six. Daddy slept on a cot in the attic with no heat.We had cardboard boxes to keep our few clothes in.

    The other room was the kitchen. It had an oil heater which Daddy burned kerosene in because it was cheaper.We had a porcelain sink hung from a wall but no running water. Cooking was on a two burner kerosene stove and we had a little fridg with a icebox big enough to hold a box of icecream. The open dish cupboard hung from the wall over the stove and a one door one stood at the bottom of the attic stairs to hold food. There was a table and four wooden chairs and a high stool for me as I was the youngest. Grandma had a rocking chair and we had a floor model radio. That was all the furnishings in our house.

    We took baths in a round galvanized wash tub. For privacy Grandma placed the kitchen chairs around the tub and hung a blanket. I was the only one small enough to stretch my legs out in the tub. Ofcourse there wasno toilet and we tredged to the out house to use the bathroom.

    Grandma canned, in glass jars with rubber ring seals ,vegetables from Daddy’s garden and we stored potatoes, carrots and turnips for winter. Meals were simple except every Sunday, we had with our vegetables, meatloaf and pumpkin pie.

    Thanksgiving and Christmas were the best because we had either a chicken or ham given to us and even once a turkey! Only twice did we ever have a Christmas tree. The first one was brought to us from the Salvation Army. We made decorations for it. I was five. The second one I remember was one Daddy brought home. I was nine and he gave me a beautiful Cinderella doll! That Christmas my two sisters also got a sled to share. That was after Daddy’s work improved and he had a little money. Grandma always re-cited from memory the Christmas story about Jesus. Santa brought candy canes or a piece of chocolate. We could hardly wait until Christmas morning to have some candy!

    Every Christmas we so happy and excited because we knew we would be together and have a special dinner. Really good times were when my Aunts came with our cousins. They usually brought us girls hand me down clothes but to my sisters and me they were new! This was during the 1950’s and almost everyone we knew were strugging financially; some more than others.

    Although times were not prospereous we never felt we were poor. We were thankful to be alive, well and together. It was love and sharing that was important to me then and still is today. It was a very Merry Christmas!

  39. Anita says:

    Janeen, Morning sickness, dare I say congrats? :-) No, my friend didn’t marry into her religion. She is my age,mid 50s, has been married for over 30 years, converted to the religion about 15 years ago. Had studied it intensely for several yrs prior. Only she is a Witness, not her husband or son. Her son was early teens when she became a Witness. I have to say, her husband was a pretty good sport about it. If my husband had studied to be a Witness, and then informed me that “we” would no longer have a tree and buy gifts, I would have had a problem with it. Especially since I myself am of the Baptist persuasion, and we have 2, now grown, kids. The first Christmas after she became a Witness, there was a problem with her mother. Her son had been to his Granny’s house one day,nearing Christmas. He came home and without discussing it with his mother, brought the tree up from the basement and began to set it up. My friend, who had already informed him they would not be celebrating and decorating ask him what he was doing. He told her his Granny told him he could celebrate Christmas if HE wanted to. Well, my friend told him no, then got into her car, went to her mom’s house and had a confrontation, telling her mother to mind her own business, etc…So, there were hard feelings from the beginning. The only way we can be friends is, we don’t discuss religion. Most of her acquaintances are Witnesses, except for her family and me. I don’t think she will ever make peace with her mother. All these years, her mother still won’t accept that she is a Witness and says things about it.(She’s 86) For example, she has told her daughter that she “thought she was smarter than that”. I have been as honest as I can be and still be friends. When she told me some of the things her mother has said, I said, “Just because I don’t say anything doesn’t mean I agree with your religion, it means I respect your right to worship how YOU choose.” I have never led her to believe that I agree with her, you know, just to be her friend. I think her relationship with her mother concerning her belief is a big part of her angst at Christmas. When she tells me about her arguments with her mom, I have ventured to say “It takes 2 to argue and your mom is not going to be silent.” meaning, if my friend could just let it go, things would be better between the 2 of them. She gets it, but can’t let it go. So I daresay things will be this way between the two of them as long as they both live.

  40. Leah says:

    Christmas, while it is the Lord’s celebrated Birthday and homes who believe this should practice as such, but has a whole, Christmas really should be about families spending time together. Most holidays should be about families spending time together. Stores should be closed on Easter, July 4th, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and only those who care for humans and animals should have to work, and even then, hopefully just on an as needed basis (for example, if you are working in a nursing home, split the shifts on Christmas so everyone has some family time. Anymore, Christmas, is all about greed. It is wrong and it makes this season meaningless.

  41. Kevin says:

    For Christmas we recieved rain, a true gift from the heavens for over here in New South Wales, Australia we have endured the ravages of drought for 10 years. To see the spirits of the farmers in the area was truly inspiring a big weight lifted off everyones shoulders. Maybe this is a turning point in the weather patern….And I got an electric frypan-one of the best presents I’ve got!

  42. Janeen says:

    Anita, yes congrats though I would feel much better about things if I wasn’t in another country and I wasn’t trying to have a VBAC but that’s another story.

    Your friend does seem to be struggling but unfortunately, that does tend to be the case with religion. Not all are called to have the same beliefs and that brings about a lot of conflict. My mother doesn’t get it either and still tries to send me cards and things but I know that it is because she believes differently and she doesn’t fully understand why we believe the way we do. Some families can take it a step even farther which is unfortunate too. There’s still some hard feelings between a friend of my husband’s and his in-laws and a lot of it was because the in-laws had so many issues with the religious beliefs that they used it to get in the way of the marriage, even had my husband’s friend booted from his own house for two years. That’s how they came to know each other; they ended up being roommates for much of that time. Still, you can either be angry about it or have peace and just understand that not everyone will believe the same right now. Anger isn’t going to do any good though; it just hurts you in the end. Sadly, people carry that anger anyway.

    Religion is just one more way unfortunately for people to divide themselves and find a reason to not get along.

  43. Nellie Keith says:

    I would like to buy the book Robin had out at Christmas but I cannot find it. Can you tell where I can get the book at? Thank – you Nellie

  44. Nancy R. says:

    You mentioned that Christmas are about us telling the ones we love most just
    how much we love them, but we also need to remember those who don ‘t have
    enough to provide their families that special gift they would want or need,
    and that is is Christ’s birthday, regardless of when it actually was.

    My family don’t get together, and my husband passed away last year, so it
    is just me now.

  45. magin says:

    I watched your show because my mom loves you and that is where I have to be right now I love her and glad I have a place to lay my head..after the home invasion and no Christmas last year..no home this year and the love of my life is in jail for 11 months .after the home invasion they burnt it down to cover . themselves which where two other people ..I have several court dates most of the people where arrested..I’m very lucky and blessed I did not die my boyfriend got shot twice and twice..grazed . I get a disability because of the things I went thru as a kid ..I’ve always struggled just to have a place to live..I’m always trying to make things better I started doing tattos from my home and I got in hot water for that to..lol but now I hv two nieces one nephew a mom two step dads my sis and bro in law and I can’t forget my boyfriend I don’t .. even get my check till after Christmas which poses the problem ill feel so terrible I feel like I should jus skip it this year..that is in no way me giving up on life or the next Christmas….. just not so sure this year..Ihate that because they get me things and I’m left explaining how and when Ican get them gifts and no they never make me feel bad always supportive and that makes it worse because they deserve so much ..there a great family who has plenty of issues but works hard to make things work..my mom does so much and my sister works a lot ..I really wish this year I could get thenm things they would enjoy…but if not Christmases will always come and ill always try gotta get it rt once lol…

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