By Dave Hood
What is the meaning of Christmas? It all depends. For many, Christmas is a sad time. It reminds people of their losses, perhaps a failed marriage, or death of loved one, or being out of work. It is also a sad time because it reminds people of what they desire, a loving relationship instead of being alone, by one’s self.
For many, Christmas has lost its true meaning: just an excuse for retails to sell their merchandise to consumers who feel pressure to give expensive gifts to people who don’t really need another iPhone upgrade or bottle of perfume.
For many children, Christmas means Santa Claus visiting on Christmas eve, placing gifts, such as iPhones, Barbie dolls, Transformers, and other gifts of delight under the Christmas tree. For other children, Christmas is a time to doubt the existence of Santa. A century ago a young child named Virginia wrote a letter to the newspaper, inquiring about whether Santa existed. The newspaper responded with these words,”“Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS”
For some, Christmas is a holiday, a time of escape from a stressful, overworked career or dreary, mindless work. It’s a day to relax, spend time with the girlfriend, the spouse, the kids.
For some, Christmas is still a religious event, a sacred occasion to celebrate the birth of Christ, through singing of Christmas Carols at a church service, attending midnight mass, listening to the message, engaging in prayer and other religious rituals. Pope Francis reminds us that” Christmas is joy, religious joy, an inner joy of light and peace.”
Public figures have said many things about Christmas:Bob Hope, the comedian and entertainer once said, “My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?”
The late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher commented, “Christmas is a day of meaning and traditions, a special day spent in the warm circle of family and friends.”
Singer/songwriter, Amy Grant, tells us, “Faith is salted and peppered through everything at Christmas. And I love at least one night by the Christmas tree to sing and feel the quiet holiness of that time that’s set apart to celebrate love, friendship, and God’s gift of the Christ child.”
For me, Christmas is all of these meanings and more. Despite the stress, the loss, the materialism, the symbols of the season, the doubts of faith, I still believe in celebration, listening to Christmas Carols, putting up the tree, perhaps attending a church service, watching shows and films with a Christmas theme, such as White Christmas or Christmas on 34th Street, exchanging of small gifts, spending time with my elderly parents and girlfriend, savoring a turkey dinner, remember those who have died— grandmothers, uncles, aunts, as well as relationships that have drifted. Most important, Christmas is about goodwill and peace to others, if only for a day.
For me, Christmastime also means contemplating another passing year, making New Years Resolutions, bringing in the New Year with a few beers with a friend, expressing hope for the future.I’m counting my blessings for another year of relative happiness and good physical and mental health.
Without celebration, daily life becomes a grind. Without celebration, daily life becomes routine, and so Christmas is just another ordinary day. One risks experiencing existential angst, living a life without meaning or purpose at Christmas. Life is far too short. And so, while we are here, we must find a way to enjoy it. Celebration nurtures the spiritual within us. Christmas is a time to celebrate.
Finding the real joy of Christmas comes not in the rushing to the mall, purchasing more gifts. Nor is it uncovered by trying to make Christmas the perfect celebration, nor is it felt by taking on the spirit of Scrooge, expressing words that are like, “humbug to Christmas.” We discover joy when we learn to savor the particulars of the Christmas season. Savoring requires us to stop and be mindful, to experience the celebration with our senses. For instance, we can use our hearing to listen to the beautiful Christmas Carols, such as O Holy Night. We can use our sight to fill the soul with the decorations and colors of the Christmas tree. We can use our taste to appreciate a tasty turkey dinner.
“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” (Calvin Coolidge, former President)
About Dave HoodLover of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction. Professional photographer and writer. Without the arts, life would be rather mundane, like a walk down the same old path on a dull day.
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Santa Clause to come visit. It is my sister, Station’s Job to decorate cookies and my Job to make rice crispy treats. My dad is always in charge of the sausage balls for Christmas morning. My mom is usually still busy wrapping last minute gifts. Joy and excitement fills the house while we make our last minute preparations, even our Yorkers are anxious to see what Christmas morning will bring. My mother always buys my sister and I matching pajamas to wear to sleep while we Walt for Santa to visit.
It Is tradition to sit In front of the fireplace with the dogs and have pictures taken by my mom. Gaston worries every year that she has not been good enough for Old Saint Nick to visit her. Before we are tucked in for bed, my sister and I open one present from underneath the tree; Gaston has her picked out for days, while it is always hard for me to decide which present to open. Now, we set out the goodies and letters to Santa. Once everything is in perfect order, Gaston and I head off to my bed with our three dogs.
Gaston is always so excited that she keeps me up for hours talking about Rudolph and the elves. Giving to friends and neighbors is a family tradition that we have every year. Exchanging homemade goodies with friends and neighbors Is a way we show the Christmas split of Glenn. We always look forward to Glenn to others, which Is a strong belief to my family: we believe that Glenn Is better than receiving. Glenn to others reminds us what the Christmas holiday is all about.
My mom bakes the most exceptional pumpkin bread ever and Lori, an old family friend, makes the greatest judge. Our families have been exchanging Christmas goodies since I can remember. It has also become a tradition for our families to deliver small gifts and cookies to other family friends. Another tradition we have is to adopt an angel from the organization called, Spirit of Christmas. Every year my sister and I pick out a young girl to shop for. We reminisce about our childhood memories while chose toys for the child.
Sharing the Christmas holiday with friends and neighbors reminds us how we are all brothers In the family of Christ. What Is the true meaning of Christmas? The stores are stocked with Christmas trees, Santa Claus, elves, and eight tiny reindeer. All of these are now what we associate family celebrates Christmas because it is Jesus’ birthday. As Christians, we believe that Christ is our savior. Santa Claus became a part of Christmas because of the legendary story of the monk, SST. Nicholas; he was a wealthy man who traveled the country giving gifts to children and to the poor.
Over the course of many years the legend has changed to the fairy-tale of Santa Claus; a man that wears a bright red tit, with a workshop in the North Pole with elves as helpers, who comes on Christmas Eve to give children gifts. Christmas is the holiday most Christians look forward to, we like this holiday because it is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. The Jewish, Muslim, and Jehovah Nineteen’s are a few people who do not celebrate this wonderful time of celebration because of their religious beliefs. The outsiders of Christmas have a different faith than the Christians.
They celebrate their beliefs in another way. I find it hard to believe that there are people who do not gather around the Christmas tree with their family on Christmas Eve. Even though they do not celebrate Christmas, they have their own family traditions. Traditions are important to my family as in many other families. Religion, family, and ethnic backgrounds all determine the traditions every family acquires. Most family traditions are passed from generation to generation. I know that my family tradition on Christmas Eve will be passed down to my children.