Two Views of Christmas
You asked what Christmas means to me, and I have been thinking about your question the past few days as I have been preparing for the season I love so much. Christmas, for me, is the time of year when people take a break from their everyday concerns and turn to more enjoyable and often more significant activities. It is a time of year when perhaps a few people at least remember to be more tolerant, to show goodwill and charity to others. It is an interlude in our busy lives that allows us to regain perspective, if only for a few weeks.
Christmas is tradition and ritual. We humans seem to find comfort in tradition. It lends a sense of continuity to our lives.
Christmas is memories. When I write cards, I remember the friends who may now be far away but still have a place in my heart. When I decorate the tree or put up my Christmas pictures, I think of the students who made the decorations and pictures for me years ago. When I sing a Christmas carol, it often evokes the memory of the place and time where I first learned the song. One song, strangely, a French one, evokes such a powerful memory that I can practically smell the snowy, treacherous road in Spain thirty years ago when my sister taught me the song while my father drove.
Christmas is light and decoration, when the world around us becomes a bit more colorful. It is the soft, magic glow of candles.Christmas is music; songs heard only this time of year and thus made special. And this music is some of the finest music known on Earth, all of it carrying a message of hope, joy, faith and goodwill.
Christmas is giving. Yes, I know that is a hackneyed expression, but is is no less a true one for that. While I am buying a gift, I think fondly of the person for whom it is intended, with the hope that they will enjoy it. When I make a gift, it is a gift of my time, my thoughts, and my caring for that person. Thus there is always that slight apprehension, the worry that perhaps they will not like the gift, the gift that came from the self.
Christmas is also receiving. Although this is not my favorite part, it is the obvious corollary to the above. Namely, when I receive a gift, I can know that the donor thought of me while choosing it, and hopefully gives the present from a feeling of caring and not just as a duty.
Christmas is family and friends, a time to renew relationships with those both far and near, to take the time to visit, to write a letter. Perhaps we should do this more at other times of the year, but we don’t, and Christmas serves as a good reminder to us.
Christmas, for me, is a renewal of my faith, a time for the advent wreath and the crèche, each of which holds a special personal significance for me.
Christmas is a time of renewal and rebirth, a time when at least some people on Earth feel a resurgence of hope, of belief in the meaning and goodness of life, a time when many renew their faith, attending the midnight church service, or reminding themselves of the true meaning of the holiday.
These are the reasons why this is my favorite time of the year, and why I wish, with all my heart, that I could give to you at least some of the joy and comfort I derive from the season.
Time's Gnawing Tooth
It's that time of year,
When many years ago
In a country far away,
A dear child was born
That was to change the world.
The legacy it left was noble,
Its message was long heeded
But now is well-nigh spent
And darkness has set in.
Nothing seems beyond
The gnawing tooth of time!
Americans buy too extravagantly,
Use but briefly and discard too readily.
Of the waste too little is reclaimed,
Too much despoils both land and water.
To acquire less and to appreciate longer
Must become a new way of lie,
And to recycle ever more
Is choice no longer but necessity.
An epigram a day:
An agnostic knows too much and is sure of too little.
An idealist dreams too much and is otherwise impractical.
A romantic is given to vision and is blind to reality.
A realist has feet and mind on the ground with no interest in flight.
Disbelief is an atheist's belief.