In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. … And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. — Lk 2:1, 4-5

For decades the Catholic Sentinel ran the entire Christmas Gospel, Luke 2:1-20, on the editorial page of the issue closest to Christmas. I don’t know how many people actually read it, considering it was what they would hear at the midnight Mass and what they could read in their missal and Bible.

But the verses are at the heart of what makes Christmas joyful. Does hearing the Nativity account not make your heart fill with the hope of that long-ago moment? With memories of your own childhood and children’s past Christmases?

Christmas cheer is also bound up with music and community — carolers, decorating the tree with the kids, midnight Masses, Christmas breakfast with the whole family, Christmas parties, school Christmas music performances and even the “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” version from the 1965 “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

Sweet memories of Christmas shopping? Not so much.

The Christmas spirit does take effort. Stop worrying about the busyness of the season. It is busy. The Christmas decorations need to be set out, even if the kids are grown and you have to do it alone. Don’t just listen to the carols but sing along. Go to church, of course. Volunteer. Have the neighbors over for dinner. Pray and share your gratitude with your loved ones. Ponder Luke 2:1-20.

How thankful we are for the true happiness that arises from faith, family and community.