Mark Ballard

Sharing the spirit of Christmas

Mark and Debra Ballard enjoy the faux snow.
Mark and Debra Ballard enjoy the faux snow.

The music began first. With the loud and thunderous roar of a Broadway production, the Christmas music escaped through speakers outside of the shop. The melodious sounds immediately captured everyone’s attention on the sidewalk and street. The music was just a prelude for what was to come.

While people and children were in various states of confusion as to why the sudden blast of holiday-themed music had begun, it happened. As if out of nowhere, snowflakes of various sizes began to fall from the sky. It was a magical sight that we don’t see often in Middle Georgia.

The expressions on everyone’s faces — including mine — immediately changed to bright, happy smiles. All of us started to frolic and play like children in the midst of the white and fluffy falling snow. For a few minutes, no matter what our age, we all became one.

As the days tick down to Christmas, we all need to strive to share some Christmas joy. All you have to do is offer a helping hand to someone in need, a smile to someone who is sad or some Christmas spirit to someone who has none.

Having come from a snow machine, the falling magic wasn’t real — but the spirit of Christmas certainly was. Young and old alike stopped in their tracks. Forgetting about their worries and the hustles and bustles of life, they danced and played under the falling snowflakes. I found it very moving to see the joyous expressions on the people’s faces because I have always loved the spirit of Christmas!

The spirit of Christmas can’t be bottled or captured. It is more of an emotion than a thing. You can’t put your finger on it or even begin to define its meaning. It doesn’t cost anything and can easily be shared by all people. It is both joyous and infectious.

Sometimes, the childlike wonder we all felt while growing up fizzles out, falling prey to adult responsibilities and worrisome thoughts. We get so caught up in the mechanics of Christmas that we lose sight of the joy! But every so often we are fortunate enough to be reminded.

My wife and I were recently standing in a long line at a store. Both of us were tired and in a hurry when something unexpected happened. In front of us in line were two ladies and a small boy. As my mind wandered thinking about all the things I had to accomplish during the next few weeks, an ornament sitting on the counter caught my attention. It was of blown glass and featured Santa in his glittered sleigh filled with colorful presents. I was looking at the ornament’s detail when the small boy in front of us whirled around and began to talk.

With the sweetest little voice — and not the least bit shy — he introduced me to Santa. With his tiny little finger, he pointed and said, “That’s Santa!”

“Indeed it is!” I replied. Then a conversation between us ensued. His eyes sparkled as he told me all about Santa. I could almost see the wheels turning in his head as he listed some of the things he wanted Santa to bring him for Christmas. He had no worries; no sadness. He was just filled to the brim with childlike wonder.

As the line of people slowly dwindled and his family checked out, I hated to see him go. For a few minutes, he had unselfishly offered me the spirit of Christmas.

“Bye,” he said as he turned to leave. “Merry Christmas!” I said.

As he walked away, I said, “Wait!” I wanted to give him something since he had given me unexpected joy. I handed him a crisp $5 bill. As if it was a million dollars, his eyes lit up and a smile filled his entire little face.

The next day, I spoke at Navicent Health’s Rehabilitation Hospital. They were lighting the Christmas tree and wanted me to stop by and entertain some of the patients. Many were confined to braces, walkers, canes and wheelchairs. Since they couldn’t decorate, I created some Christmas decorations to share with them. They were so happy. It’s amazing! The spirit of Christmas looks the same on everyone — young or old.

As the days tick down to Christmas, we all need to strive to share some Christmas joy. It’s not hard to do. You don’t have to produce faux snow, create decorations or give money. All you have to do is offer a helping hand to someone in need, a smile to someone who is sad or some Christmas spirit to someone who has none.

It is a wonderful feeling to share — especially when the spirit of Christmas is what you are offering!


Join Mark for a holiday open house, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Medical Center of Peach County, Navicent Health, 1960 Ga. 247 Connector, Byron. Free. Call 478-654-2002 for details.

Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; call 478-757-6877; email; follow him at; or become a subscriber to Mark’s Facebook page.