Over the years, I have run into an increasingly large number Over thof people that have said, in one manner or another, that they hate Christmas. They have adopted the mindset that Christmas is a waste of time, that it has become way too busy, too commercial, artificial, trite, and insignificant. They feel that Christmas has become just another point of controversy, another opportunity to argue and one more day to throw money away into the street for something that will be forgotten in a matter of hours. In short, Christmas has been defined by many as a condition to endure instead of a reason to celebrate.
It is easy for most of us to speak about how Christmas is the season of giving, and how this sentiment underscores the meaning of the holiday. Not many of us, even those that have grown tired of the season, could argue with that. Commercialized as it may have become, Christmas affords us the opportunity to give and assigns some measure of purpose to the process. It's Christmas, you go to the store, pick something out, bring it home, wrap it up, then you give somebody a present. Pretty straightforward arrangement. And, yes, the present gets forgotten, the sentiment passes and the day often turns into a blur of flurried activity that trails off into the mist of the morning. And then its over.
I have taken some inventory of the things that have given me meaning at Christmas and very few were the gifts I received. In fact, I can only recall a couple of the presents I've been given over the last fifty two years. I don't remember what I received or from whom I received things, at least not very many.
But what I do remember about Christmas is the activities of the people around me. I remember the efforts they made, the time they spent, in making the holiday better for others. And most of all, I remember the people. My family, those here and now gone. Their faces, their demeanor, their dispositions through the day. What I remember is the love in the presence of one another, the kindness in the giving, and the efforts toward creating joy. These were never without conflict. But the tension always gave way to love, and the love always prevailed.
This is the meaning of Christmas. It is creating an indelible happiness toward one another, often in spite of ourselves. It is friendship. It is forgiveness. It is hope in a better tomorrow. It is gratitude for living another day. It is remembering stockings filled for children at two in the morning, words of such love written that may have never been heard, and darkness broken by a million lights in every street. It is self control and exuberance, restraint and explosions of joy. It is compassion. It is deep and attentive caring. It is the look of "I love you" written into every expression. It is knowing that, for maybe only minutes on this one inexpressibly meaningful day, that life is good, that people matter-really matter-more than any thing in our lives. It is the gift of being alive. It is our best selves.
This year, get a running start on Christmas and leap joyously into the season. Lead with your heart and Love with your hands held out and your arms open wide. Hold the words "I love you" at the ready. And linger a little longer with one another my friends; Your best present is your presence. Merry Christmas.
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