INTRODUCTION: REFLECTIONS

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Book of Christmas Virtues

Introduction

Reflections

Holiday greetings, family gatherings, crackling fires, candlelight services, gingerbread men, jingle bells, crunching snow, garlands . . .

What comes to your mind when you think about Christmas?

Do you feel excitement? Delight? Wonder? Are you eager to plan, to give, to do? Do you anticipate and participate?

Or do you hallucinate and disintegrate?

Too often, we approach Christmas mired in a puddle of tree lights, fighting to untangle, struggling to straighten things out—the lights, ourselves. We get caught in the clamor of consumerism. We drown in debt.

Worst of all, we forget.

We forget to focus on the pure, unadulterated joy of the season. The kind of wholesome pleasure that seeps into our minds, sneaks onto our lips and slips throughout our souls. That indefinable, unexplainable, indescribable . . . cleansing . . . that washes over us until we are cleaner and clearer, bigger and brighter. Indeed, until we are better than ourselves.

And where do we find this elusive something?

Within each of us lies the possibility of “betterness” and the ability to achieve a higher level of moral excellence by adopting virtuous qualities. And what better time than Christmas to discover, develop and nurture a virtue?

Christmas, a season of newness, offers us the opportunity for personal renewal. The chance to change ourselves, alter our course, remake our lives. Oh, not necessarily on a grand scale. Small increments—baby steps—will do.

And that is what we offer within the pages of Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Book of Christmas Virtues—inspiration to assist your quest for virtue. A collection of stories to encourage retrospection, introspection and quiet reflection.

Our own inspiration comes from the Advent season itself. Perhaps your family, too, reads Scripture and lights candles each Sunday during the month of December, each week focusing on a specific theme. In that same spirit, we selected seven virtues that are symbolic of Christmas: Kindness, Joy, Love, Gratitude, Faith, Simplicity and Wonder. All are characteristics that kindle a light within.

We designed a thought-provoking essay to introduce each virtue and a creative end-of-chapter activity to reinforce it. Then we read through stacks and stacks of stories. Stories that Chicken Soup readers—exactly like you—wrote and shared. Stories that depicted the same virtues we chose to emphasize. Stories that encouraged us. Stories that stirred and fired us. Stories that raised us to a higher plane.

From them, we selected the accounts within these pages, anecdotes of all shapes and sizes, exactly like the people who wrote them. After all, as a wise man once noted, “A human being is nothing but a story with skin around it.”

The final product is this treasury of holiday stories, emphasizing the good, the uplifting and the righteous— all without sermonizing. The virtues are evident; the lessons are heartfelt; the journey is one of joy. The Book of Christmas Virtues sparkles with the charm of a tinseled tree and crackles with the warmth of a wood-burning stove . . . even as it rings with the familiar voice of home.

Someone once said, “Telling a story is a gift of love.” And so, our gift to you this holiday season is in the telling.

Carol McAdoo Rehme

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