Season of Joy

The Christmas season boasts its very own persona. Music shifts from “today’s top hits” to the classics of Winter Wonderland and Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Coffees become spiced with nutmeg or flavored with peppermint. Homes become overdressed with lights and ornaments and take on the familiar scent of fresh-cut pine—color schemes transition to reds and greens. Neighborhoods, churches, and grocery stores alike proclaim that Christmas is here.
Although all these sights are hard to miss, one unique thing would remind me that Christmas had indeed arrived. It was a small, wool polar bear wearing skis found in the most unusual place, hanging in my grandmother’s guest bathroom shower. For as long as I can remember, this polar bear would appear every December. My grandmother, a small yet mighty Swiss woman, was a master at creating small traditions, moments, and memories that lasted from year-to-year.

When I was younger, Christmas was quite formal. On Christmas Eve, everyone dressed up and sat in the family room on pristine, white sofas to open presents. Each family member would take turns opening and admiring their gift, thanking the person who gave it to them, and pausing just long enough before the next person would continue the process. As the years went by, this tradition took on a new attitude. We would still gather in the family room, but we exchanged our fancy clothes for pajamas and Santa hats. We still took turns opening presents, but we left the gift wrap and tissue paper strewn all over the room in what my grandmother called “the holy mess.”
Although our family leaned into a more Americanized adaptation of the Christmas spirit, one thing always remained, the little polar bear with skis hanging in the shower. Somehow, amongst the hustle and bustle of the holidays… with the gifts, food, and inflatable Santas, there remains the constant reminder of a small baby hidden in an unusual place, a manger, who came to alter the course of the universe.

Christmas was never the same after my grandmother passed away in the summer of 2015. My aunt and I argued over who got to keep the polar bear. She won. Now, every December, I receive a photo of him hanging in her bathroom, a reminder that Christmas is here. I hope that each of us finds a touch point this holiday season, a reminder of what is truly important, so when the twinkling lights grow dim, and the music fades, we find confidence and hope in the One who has altered the course of the universe.

Contributed by Jessica Dooley
The Famous Bear
Signaling that Christmas has arrived!
Jessica Dooley
Manager of Story and Experience for Adventist Health
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Claudia - December 13th, 2022 at 9:34am

Beautiful! Thank you Jessica and Merry Christmas joy. In faithful hands~

- December 13th, 2022 at 3:28pm

Thank you for sharing. Merry Christmas!

Daniel - December 13th, 2022 at 12:55pm

Thanks a lot, we really appreciate to be able to read it in our family.

- December 13th, 2022 at 3:28pm


Jan - December 15th, 2022 at 11:32am

Love the story of the polar bear in the shower. But for some reason the bit about arguing with your aunt about who got to take him home (and the fact that she won) just melted my heart. A sweet portrayal of family and traditions that bind us. God bless. Merry Christmas!