Editor’s note: This is the third and final part in a series of articles by local writer Margaret O’Malley.

It’s that time of year… when more than ever, there is too much to do and too little time. With all the events and to-dos, I’m afraid we have begun to replace the simple meaning of Christmas with complicated, commercialized stress. Here is a thought I recently had, one for you to consider.

Imagine the original scene at Bethlehem, the one moment with Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, and the wisemen in the stable. Close your eyes for a moment if you need to. Picture the crunchy hay underfoot. Smell the spicy perfumes mingled with the stench of animals. Feel the warmth of God’s Star shining through the cracks in the roof. Are you there now?

Now let’s, ourselves, pack up a bin of our finest Christmas things and bring it into the picture. Place a snug elf hat over baby Jesus’ little head. Rig up a blue Christmas tree and string it with dazzling lights and ornaments. Ask one of the wisemen to wait outside, so the other two can help us inflate the larger-than-life Santa Clause. String lights along the manger, and stack the presents in front of it. After a while, the room becomes crowded with what we have brought. The wisemen say they have to leave. Add a gingerbread house display, and Mary and Joseph quietly sneak outside. They feel that there is no room in the stable, either. I have to tell you goodbye, now, because I’m expecting company at home. Baby Jesus is nowhere to be found. A table with candles and a pot roast have taken center stage. You are left alone in this crowded place filled with frills and lights.

This is an empty, cold stable when we fill it up with or replace everyone in it with the commercialized traditions and purchases of modern-day Christmas. I think the best way to lose all the stress at Christmastime is to stick with the meaning of Christmas. Save some favorite traditions, but never, ever forget that one picture of the stable. Be careful not to hide baby Jesus under all of the commercialism.

Whatever you’re baking, whatever you’re doing, be sure to cook up Soul-Saving Soup, Happiness Tea, and Friendship Spice Crumble from the previous issues of “Best Christmas Recipes.” Show kindness and exude joy to people you love, people you don’t love, and to the less fortunate. Remember the simple warmth and love of the real Christmas this year — and all year-round.

Margaret is an aspiring local writer who wants to bring the values of the past into the life of the present. You can reach her for feedback by emailing sospower@outlook.com.