It’s that time of year…we have turned back the clocks and dusk settles in well before dinner time. Shoppers circle the mall in search of the ideal parking spot. The 24/7 Christmas music channels are up and running.
And so, as John Lennon sang, this is Christmas. And with the season comes the delicate state of mind and heart that we call the “Christmas spirit.”
For Ebenezer Scrooge, the Christmas spirit arrived literally in the form of ghosts that haunted his sleep one Christmas Eve. But when I think of Christmas Past, it’s not with haunted memories. I remember shopping at the local five-and-dime, caroling on cold Michigan nights with Girl Scouts, and poring over the annual Sears Wish Book I remember the breathtaking red and green lights strung across Main Street in my hometown; it looked a lot like Bedford Falls in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I remember the Christmas Eve when we anticipated my daughter’s birth; she stubbornly arrived ten days later.
I love the traditions that take over the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. We move furniture to accommodate a tree that is probably a lot bigger than it looked outside. The brave among us mount ladders to trim the eaves and shrubbery with lights. We pull out special recipes, and the rules about counting calories and not eating after dinner are suspended for a while. We hum along with our favorite Christmas songs. For years, I was a bit obsessed with the goal that my children would learn all the words to all the verses of all the carols, and to that end played only Christmas music after Halloween. (They did indeed learn all the words.)
A few of us still send Christmas cards and letters the old fashioned way.
It all adds up, somehow, to create the spirit of Christmas. It is, according to my wise husband Mike, the spirit we wish we could maintain all year long. It is the spirit of love, of contentment, of generosity, of faith. In the end, Ebeneezer Scrooge agreed, and vowed to “honor Christmas in my heart and keep it all the year.”
We pray that you are able to nurture the Spirit of Christmas Present this year, and to realize that the most generous gifts of the season have nothing to do with material extravagance.
We wish you the gifts of health and happiness, and remind you that your next breath is a little miracle all its own.
We wish you the gift of contentment, and pray for peace in a troubled world.
We wish you the gifts of giving and receiving love from those around you. We remind you of the special blessings that come from reaching out to a friend from days past, or a family member that you haven’t seen or heard from in too long.
We wish you the gift of recognizing the blessings that grace everyday life. Indeed, those who are unable to count their blessings are more handicapped than those who have no legs.
And finally, we wish you the gift of faith. Faith for a brighter tomorrow. Faith that propels you to action. Faith that keeps a bit of the spirit of this Christmas alive in your heart all year long.
Merry Christmas to all….