Greatest Gifts Of Any Season
Wednesday - December 21, 2005
And the angel said unto them, Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people ... Luke 2:1
And of course, that is what Christmas is to Christians. The birth of Jesus. It is a beautiful story well worth the telling. But, folks - why are we spoiling it?
The culture wars of America have invaded Christmas. This country is so polarized nowadays that we can’t even enjoy a holiday without getting into fights over what to call it. Up until now I have said “Merry Christmas” and “Happy holidays” almost interchangeably, without worrying too much about what came out of my mouth. After all, I grew up with Christmas. And it is a holiday. And I do want everyone to be happy. So what, exactly, is the big deal?
At the same time I am well aware that many people do not celebrate the birth of Christ. And if someone is not a Christian, why should I be offended by that or, more importantly, why should I risk offending by pushing an agenda on them? Again, what is the big deal? Isn’t inclusiveness a good thing?
Christmas is a federal holiday - it is for all Americans regardless of religious beliefs. So if someone offers me season’s greetings I’ll take it in the spirit in which it was intended. Why on earth would you boycott a store because it wants to include all people - not just Christians - in the holiday spirit? Doesn’t that seem just a tad mean? Is that really what your mama taught you? When she said ‘tis the season for giving, did she mean to give only to those who believe as you do?
Please. Let’s just drop the arguments and have a couple of weeks to bask in cheer and good will. We should be having fun and reflecting on more important things. I, for one, have been thinking about the greatest gifts we can give or receive.
Commitment. When you commit your life to a partner, a child, a belief or a cause, you have already made the world a better place. It means you have put aside the petty, self-centered things of childhood and are ready to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own. You are no longer the center of your universe, which means you are ready to love.
Conscience. This is something your parents impart to you and you pass along to your children. To help mold a person’s sense of right and wrong - what a gift! And it is a gift that stays with you forever.
Clarity. The ability to cut through the BS and discern the truth. Clarity gives you the means to shape your own destiny. Self-knowledge is clarity.
Courage. It takes courage to live life as you know it should be lived. We all have a kernel of heroism within us. Find it. Use it.
And finally, give someone the greatest gift of all - compassion. Compassion gives us awareness of the suffering of another person, and makes us want to help make things right. Compassion leads to understanding, which ultimately leads to peace.
We have big, big problems in the world that need our gifts of compassion, courage, clarity, conscience and commitment, yet we are wasting our energies squabbling over whether to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy holidays.” Seems downright silly, doesn’t it?
Enjoy this time with your families, whatever you wish to call it. And have a great new year.
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