Two little ones in my backseat were talking about the moon on a recent weeknight as I pulled into the carport after a full day of work.
It was a crescent moon, and the shadow of its fullness could be seen.
We all climbed out of the car, and they went out to the driveway to peer at the moon through the trees.
Then they saw the stars.
First the oldest lay down with his back on the cold pavement, folded his hands under his head and stared up. Then the youngest followed.
The three of us paused. It was all so big and beautiful, as one of their bedtime stories reads.
For these little ones, plenty of other emotions can fill their days while they live in our foster home. But in that moment, it was just joy.
The joy children find in simple things is special, particularly as we adults rush from one task to another, spending many more minutes annoyed and stressed than joyful.
I’ve certainly found myself in that boat.
This year has been one of a lot of change at The Times. It has come with its stresses.
For many, all the stress comes to a head during the holidays.
And though we sing of joy, it’s an emotion we don’t often think about otherwise. I was reminded of it this past Sunday by a likely source: my pastor.
I often think of peace at this time of year and even contentment. But maybe joy feels too far to reach. It’s similar to happiness but comes from a place much deeper.
When we’re feeling joyful, it fills our soul and lights up our face.
When I look at the face of one of my little ones, so excited to show me something from school, it can be hard to stop and appreciate his joy about some craft supplies glued to a piece of paper.
This holiday season, I hope you find joy in what may otherwise be overlooked.
Maybe that means you set some politics aside or some resentment or a little greed.
We’re all susceptible to letting toxic emotions and arguments eat away at any semblance of joy.
Perhaps you can find joy at a Christmas concert, as all the musical parts come together just right and a smile spreads over your face at the beauty sounds can make.
Or maybe it’s in your kitchen baking for your family, an act of service that gives you purpose and fills your house with delicious smells.
It could be found when giving a loved one a gift that’s unexpected but just right, and their gratitude at the thought radiates.
Maybe it’s in the face of a child excited to see you.
Or maybe it’s in the face of a child born more than 2,000 years ago.
Shannon Casas is editor in chief of The Times. Her column will be publishing weekly on Sundays.