I love Christmas. Love it. The music, the movies, the joy of gift giving, the reminder of hope. My roommates and I leave our Christmas trees (all six of them) up year-round. We are the real deal.

One of my favorite Christmas movies is the Will Ferrell classic, "Elf." I think it is the perfect mix of comedy, Santa and the meaning of Christmas. Buddy the Elf is one of my favorite characters of all time. The way he lives his life completely uninhibited, with such joy and love, is something I strive for. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from the movie, including to never try to hug a raccoon, but one of the best is something I try to apply to my everyday life: The Code of Elves.

1. Treat every day like Christmas.

This is so important. No, we don't need to give gifts wrapped in reindeer-print paper to each other every single day or have family dinner with 15 desserts every weekend. What we do need is to keep the spirit of Christmas with us every day. I can keep it in the small things like holding the door open for the people walking behind me and making sure to hug my friends every time I see them. The Christmas spirit is in me when I hold on to hope. It is in me when I find joy in the mundane parts of life. Encouraging others, acting with love, holding onto hope. That is how we treat every day like Christmas. And maybe eating a cookie or two.

2. There's room for everyone on the Nice List.

Seeing the best in people can be hard. I try to live by the idea that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. And then sometimes I still assume they are innocent. I think that the more we assume people to be kind and caring, the more we will find that people are kind and caring. If someone can sense that I don't like them from the start, he or she probably won't like me either. We as humans tend to take on the role that others give us. If people continually tell me that I am dumb, I will start to believe that I am dumb. Remembering this philosophy is essential to living a life of joy. If I am constantly assuming the worst in people, it becomes hard to love them. I think that Jesus always sees the best in us, and does what He can to draw that out of us. I want to do the same for those around me. I think that that is love.

3. The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.

Clearly, this is my favorite one. We all have that one song that we can't help but turn up and yell-sing at the top of our lungs with a huge smile on our faces. For me, it's more than one song, but I don't know a single person that doesn't have at least one. Singing is therapeutic. Music can make the world melt away in a way that nothing else can. My favorite part of this movie is at the end when Emily (Michael's mom) starts to sing along, and she is completely tone deaf. To me, that is beautiful. Yes, individually, her voice is not pleasing, but when she is singing among all of the people standing outside of Central Park, the sound is beautiful and joyful. What can speak more to the meaning of Christmas than that?



So, my friends, I hope you will join me in living by the Code of Elves. I'm not saying you need to go dig around in your attic and stick up your Christmas tree today. Not that I would be opposed to you doing that. I do hope, though, that we can start a tradition of holding onto hope in the midst of chaos and love in the midst of war. Together we are stronger. Warm up those vocal chords, grab a cup of hot cocoa and come with me as we live our lives like Buddy the Elf.