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Maria’s Sunday Paper: What Christmas Eve Means to Me

Christmas Eve is powerful. At least it is for me.

Hearing the music at my church on this day moves me. It’s stirring and beautiful. I love to see so many families there together, dressed in their Christmas best. The parable of the holy family —searching for a place to give birth and being welcomed into a stable — has always struck me as beautiful in its simplicity, but also troubling in its poignancy. To think that the only place a family could find to give birth was in a stable…

So many families tonight will seek refuge and find none. So many people will be alone. And yes, so many will be together — caring for one another, celebrating one another, and getting ready for the screeching and celebrating that comes with this special holiday.

But, it is this holy night that always feels most special to me. After Santa has done his work, I’ll sit in silence listening to Christmas music. I’ll listen to music that brings me joy and, yes, music that makes me cry. I’ll think about the moments when people welcomed me in. I’ll think about moments of meaning, connection and joy. And, yes, I’ll think about those moments when I came to realize that certain things I wished to be certain, were no longer.

My wish for you this holiday is to sit in the power of the moment. My gift to you is a poem I wrote entitled “This Moment.” Enjoy, and Merry Christmas.


Want to receive Maria’s perspective, as well as other inspirational content, in your inbox each week? Sign up to receive Maria’s Sunday Paper newsletter by clicking HERE.

P.S. For more of what “I’ve Been Thinking,” I hope you’ll check out my upcoming book, “I’ve Been Thinking…: Reflections, Prayers and Meditations for a Meaningful Life.” It’s available for pre-order now. I was inspired to write it thanks to all of the positive feedback I receive from you, readers of The Sunday Paper, each week. So, thank you. I love being in community with you.



THE GIFT OF BELONGING: I consider Pastor Chad Veach to be a dear friend and an inspirational blessing in my life. I was thrilled that he could stop by this week to talk about his new book, “Faith Forward Future,” and to help instill within us the true meaning of the holiday season.  


THE GIFT OF SELF ACCEPTANCE: My friend, author and Architect of Change DeVon Franklin, was kind enough to deliver a personal holiday message for The Sunday Paper. He reminds us to be accepting of everything we experience in life because, ultimately, it all happens for our greater good.


We also asked a few other religious leaders from various faiths to share a blessing with you for this holiday. Here is what they wanted you to hear today.


1. SINGING TOGETHER ENABLES WOMAN WITH ALZHEIMER’S TO REMEMBER HER SON: I found this story to be especially poignant as it beautifully illustrates the gift of song. An 88-year-old woman suffering from severe dementia only recognizes her son when they sing together.  and watch the video above.

2. DECIDING WHO WE ARE AS A COUNTRY: In this op-ed for USA Today, former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates reminds us that now, more than ever, it’s important to focus on our nation’s core founding values. This is a smart read for today or any day.

3. STUDY REVEALS LOW BRAIN SERATONIN MAY BE LINKED TO DEMENTIA: Social connection can help lift our mood, and a new study reminds us why lifting our mood is so important. In a recent brain scan study at Johns Hopkins, researchers discovered evidence that serotonin loss may be a key factor to cognitive decline.

4. DOCTOR CARRIES ELDERLY PATIENT TO HIS OFFICE THROUGH THE SNOW: During these often-divisive times, it’s always wonderful to hear stories like this one, about a Michigan doctor who postponed his personal plans to see an elderly patient in need of critical treatment.
5. BILL GATES TWEETS OUT INSPIRATIONAL TWEETS OF THE YEAR: I love that Bill Gates points out that there were some uplifting and inspirational tweets this year that we may have overlooked. HIs list will remind you of the good that exists and that was still thriving in 2017. 
6. LITTLE BOY AWESTRUCK OVER STORE CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS: The look of utter joy and wonderment on this little guy’s face as his mom pushes him around a store decorated for Christmas is priceless. We should all get our “kid wonder” on for the holidays! Watch the video below.


There is no better time than Christmas Eve to share an inspirational message from Pope Francis. This one is from his latest book, “Happiness in This Life,” and it tells us to continue to move forward and to not become a “prisoner” to our everyday problems.



Get Empowered. Pass It Forward.

We’re so excited to announce that we’ve added a few new items to our shop! Check out our stylish apparel to fight Alzheimer’s, created in partnership with Art With a Purpose. You can also order our newest product, the “Maria” candle – the same scent used in her office and home. Visit the shop on MariaShriver.com to learn more.

Also, now through the end of December: every time you purchase from Rivet Revolution’s “WAM Band Collection,” $20 will be donated to The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, courtesy of our partners at Rivet and Home Care Assistance. Get yours today and give this gift for a good cause.