We have arrived at December and a time to embrace the spirit of Christmas.

Isn't this a wonderful time of the year? So many things fill our hearts with the spirit of Christmas – the Christmas carols, the lights, the decorations, and the happy greetings of “Merry Christmas!”

For the next four weeks, through Christmas Eve, I'd like to focus on the spirit of Christmas and share some inspirational quotes.

The late Reverend Peter Marshall declared, “Let us not spend Christmas and let us not observe Christmas, necessarily, but let us keep Christmas in our hearts and in our lives.”

Peter continued with, “I thank God for Christmas. Would that it lasted all year? For on Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, all the world is a better place, and men and women are more loveable. Love itself seeps into every heart, and miracles happen.”

Although, we can get very distracted with the things of this world, and lose site of the origin and purpose of Christmas, we need to decide, early in December, where we would like to be on Christmas Day.

Thomas S. Monson, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stated, “Because, when we keep the spirit of Christmas, we keep the spirit of Christ, for the Christmas spirit is the Christ spirit. It will block out all the distractions around us, which can diminish Christmas and swallow up its true meaning.”

I'd like to share some inspirational thoughts. Hopefully, this will provide us with motivation toward the true spirit of Christmas.

President Calvin Coolidge stated, "Christmas is not a time, nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas."

American author Peg Bracken shared, "Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas."

Singer-songwriter Charlotte Carpenter inspired us with, "Remember, if Christmas isn't found in your heart, you won't find it under a tree."

Pope John XXIII declared, "Mankind is a great, immense family. This is proved by what we feel in our hearts at Christmas.”

“Peanuts” cartoonist Charles Schultz stated, “Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone."

I love the quote by American author Mary Ellen Chase: "Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind."

Phillips Brooks, a 19th century American clergyman and author, shared, "Christmas is a day of joy and charity. May God make you very rich in both."

Minister and author Norman Vincent Peale inspired us with the following, "Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful."

Recall actress Dale Evans and her words, "Every time we love, every time we give, it's Christmas.”

Pulitzer Prize author Edna Ferber wrote, "Christmas isn't a season, it's a feeling."

I believe it is possible to tuck away the store advertisements, avoid the Cyber Mondays, and some of the diversions of Christmas.

Perhaps we can donate to a community Christmas drive, drop some change in a red bucket, visit a nursing home or simply wish a passerby a “Merry Christmas.”

I promise, stress and heartache can be lessened when we focus on the true spirit of Christmas, and each day of December will become more “softer and more beautiful.”

Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County’s Family Week Foundation. Email her at jacksoncountyfamilyweek@yahoo.com or visit www.jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org.