For about 35 years, I’ve been part of a group of women who meet on a monthly basis. We were the first group of working women among numerous groups of doctors’ and lawyers’ wives who supported the Springfield Art Museum. We called ourselves Pastiche, which means a mixture of various styles of art. Each meeting we’d gather to learn a new craft, hear a program about art or collectibles, visit an art show or share stories about trips or books.

I’ve been living in Kansas for ten years, so I’m no longer able to attend the monthly weeknight meetings. But when I can, I visit for the annual Christmas dinner and cookie swap. Getting ready for these can be frenetic, as we have busy jobs, and making a dish and cookies for eight to ten people takes time. But the result is always worth it because we have so much fun. Every year, we share stories about cookie fails, and I’ve had my share. We tell these not to complain, but to make each other laugh, and there’s plenty of frivolity when we get together.

We decided it’s not so much about fixing the yummiest dish, or baking the perfect cookies that makes these gatherings worth attending. It’s the ongoing friendships we formed and maintained over the years. It’s a celebration of life, and we share the holiday joy with gusto.

So much of the season has become about getting the best deal on the latest toy or gadget. We stress about how to buy what we think each other wants, and worry about paying our bills at the same time. When what matters most is that we share the joy the season brings, the celebration of a special birth in a lowly manger over two thousand years ago. Yes, there were gifts that night, but more importantly there was a gathering of souls both rich and poor, to attend that miracle.

Show the same kind of love not only to family, but also to friends and even strangers. Share the greatest gift of all, your love for your fellow man. Do what you can for others, and reap the most real kind of holiday joy.

Here are two examples of opportunities to do that at the library this season.

Attend our holiday jam and chili dinner during the Music on Main! Jam Session Thursday, Dec. 21 at 6 p.m. Several kinds of chili will be served, and others attending are invited to bring a dish. It can be as simple as chips and dips, shredded cheese, a beverage or a homemade dessert.

Visit our School Break Storytime, held on Friday, Dec. 22, Wednesday, Dec. 27 and Friday, Dec. 29 at 11 a.m. Make memories with your children by listening to some fun stories with Miss Lia.