It is that time of year again. It is my favorite time of year. It is my hardest time of year. It makes me want to be a better person. It makes me see just how far I have to go to be that person. I see good from so many people. Good that does not only come out at Christmas, it just expands its bounds.

Now, being a personal friend of Santa, I get to watch his excitement build as Christmas draws closer. He gets excited, not for the Christmas season but for the sharing of joy with as many people as possible.

It has taken many years for me to just begin to understand the truth of Joy. I was the child who could not sleep due to the excitement of Christmas and PRESENTS. I had trouble (and got in trouble) waiting for a certain day to be able to open the presents wrapped and places under the tree. I remember sitting at the tree looking at the gifts labeled with my name. I would compare sises of the piles and look to see which gifts were just the right size for that special thing I wanted. It was magical… but each time I felt this happiness I was actually missing the Joy people talk about all season.

As I age and get slower, I become more thoughtful. I begin to see things differently. One of these things is joy vs happiness.

Very simply, I am beginning to understand that the happiness I felt as a child was based on getting. Giving was only a requirement for the getting. The getting though; oh, the getting made me happy (and still does make me excited).

The thing that is becoming more clear is the joy does not come from the getting but from the giving. The more I came to realize this the harder this time of year became. I know, that does not make sense but it happened. I have a giving wife. She does not do a lot of material gifts throughout the year, she saves that for Christmas. So each Christmas, all the things I have wanted through the year are wrapped and ready for me to “get”. I would then be upset because I wanted to be the “giver”, I wanted the joy.

There I was again. I could not see the joy because I was being an ungracious receiver. By doing this I turned it all into what I wanted, making me the “getter” on both counts. Sometimes being a gracious receiver allows others to feel joy.  This allows all to be givers and therefore all experience Joy.

My struggle extends to seeing the giving year round. When we take giving from just a material stand point it starts to become easier to see.

The longer I deal with stockdogs (and most of the companion animals I have spent time with; except cats… cats are takers, cats are only happy when you are not. LOL), the more they teach me about giving and joy.

I look at my dogs. I have yet to see my dogs not excited to see me. I can walk out of the house with a chip on my shoulder and my dogs meet me at the gate happy. I can be angry and they want to make me happy. I can be sad and my dogs… you guessed it, they want to make me happy.

I am beginning to think, modeling myself after my dogs may be the secret to joy. You see, my dogs are givers. This does not mean they are not excited to get just that they are always looking to give. When we go to work there are no treats, there may not be good times, they may have to put themselves up against threats they do not know they can beat, and they are going to have to put up with me being moody if it does not go the way I want. They do this every day and are excited to see me at the end of it just like they are at the start.

They are givers. They give of themselves and only ask for food, shelter and companionship in return. And of what they ask in return; they are willing to take what ever of it we are willing to give. I think that is the key to joy.

Joy comes to those who give of themselves. We can experience joy during this season because we are giving material gifts. We can experience joy year round if we become givers of ourselves.

I hope that you all have a Merry Christmas. My wish for each of you this Christmas season is: may you be the person your dog treats you like. May you experience joy year round by becoming givers of yourselves. May you find peace and joy in yourself, your home, and the world.

Merry Christmas to All from all of us at Double V Stockdogs.





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