If someone finds my Christmas spirit, please return it to me. I think I left it in aisle four. I am sure it will return to me in time for the big day. It’s just not here yet.

And I know I am not alone, feeling this way. This time of year isn’t easy for anyone.

There is a lot of pressure to feel merry and bright isn’t there? So much so that I bought myself a sweatshirt that says just that – “merry and bright” – in hopes that if I wear it, the holiday would seep into my bones and fill me up with the magic I felt at Christmas when I was a kid. I’ve worn it a few times. So far, it’s not wearing off, but it’s early yet.

And I know it’s in me, somewhere; the nostalgic happy me, just waiting for things to slow down long enough to feel it. And like every year, it will emerge. I know this because I can honestly say I have everything I could possibly ever want or need for Christmas already.

I have more than enough to be grateful for, and none of it comes with ribbons, bows or price tags. Cliché to say? Perhaps. But that makes it no less true.

I’m suspicious now of those people who insist upon the Christmas merriment like it’s a festive cult. I’m sure they don’t mean to do it, and maybe they really need to get happy for the season or the meaning behind it. I respect both.

Yet somewhere in the message to spread joy and love we also tend to cast a shadow of judgment on those who just can’t get happy for a multitude of reasons.

So I ask of you, whether you are a festive soul or a ba-hum-bug curmudgeon, remember those for whom the holidays are a difficult time. Find a way to reach out and connect. But also give space to those who need it, because not everybody wants to be rescued.

Let those who find themselves newly single this Christmas know you are thinking of them, or let those who have lost a loved one this year know they are not alone.

For the people who wait for the relatives that don’t arrive, or the ones who hide from the relatives that do, they need to know they matter too.

For those who struggle with issues darker than most of us will ever understand, remember it’s not a choice for them: it’s a battle. And they don’t need judgment or pressure to live up to our ideals of comfort and joy. What they need to feel is valued. If they can’t see the light, you have to shine it for them.

Hold on. Pay attention. Listen, even if they offer no words.

Being present is sometimes the best present, at Christmas or anytime, for that matter. The gift of time is priceless.

Christmas is a celebration of miracles.

It is the message of love, and we’re talking big-picture love here people, the kind that has the potential to heal wars, solve crisis and forgive the unthinkable through the power of hope. The good fight. It’s about the connectedness of all of us and the mysterious miracle of being here at all. Share that. It’s free.

Wait. I think I just found my Christmas spirit. Yep. There it is.