“Why can’t we have Christmas every day of the year – stop the wars and fighting – be free from hurt and fear; treat each other like brothers and sisters – let God’s love abound; why can’t we have Christmas all year ‘round?” L. Gatlin
Those are lyrics to what is quite possibly the shortest Christmas song ever written – yet, for all it’s brevity, the weight and impact of the message conveyed are possibly the most profound I have heard. It conjures an array of images that, to me certainly and unmistakably define that most elusive phenomenon permeating our lives at this time of year; The Christmas Spirit.
Listening to this song the other day, I found myself pondering just what is that thing we all call “The Christmas Spirit? To be sure, we are reminded of it at every turn and juncture at this time of year (sadly, driven inexorably home as an exhortation to lavish expenditure by retail establishments galore). Yes, there is that, (and I fear there always will be – the commercialization of Christmas is woven into the very fabric of our economy). This is so much a given, that the very idea of gifting those you care about has morphed from an unbidden act of selflessness into a veritable obligatory action (I’ve GOT to get something for Aunt Martha) – not to put too harsh a face on the idea – after all, giving freely begets a like response from the gifted party – that is all well and as it should be; for I suspect herein lie the seeds of the true “Spirit of Christmas”; The unstoppable power that informs such unlikely events as these:
and (this next is about a 5 minute piece, but well worth the time):
Excuse me, there seems to be something in my eye…..there, now, where was I? Oh yes, THIS is the undeniable power of The Spirit of Christmas – what lies at the heart of the entire Christmas message – forgiveness and love for our fellow man. This message fairly resounds in the canon of Christmas Music, secular and sacred, throughout the world today, but, while we absorb, accept (and in some cases even model) the message, the power of it – mighty in it’s arrival – all too soon fades – a victim of the overpowering din of our hectic, workaday lives. (at this juncture, I am forced to recall that even Frosty’s magical hat could not long stand unabridged by the sun – a sad metaphor for life on life’s terms.) But, not to leave with such a dark thought in the midst of our Yuletide season, here is the good news: Christmas happens but once a year, but at least it happens EVERY year:
Every year Christmas returns with it’s infusion of hope and love for mankind – reminding us all of the refrain oft-repeated by Kris Kringle in the 1994 version of “Miracle on 34th Street”: “Mankind needs Christmas to lift him up above the selfish and bestial course that is human nature”. In Christmases Past, this force has been sufficient to put a hold on mankind’s warring nature, albeit a brief one – what sort of entity has the power to accomplish such a feat? I have an idea about that, but will address in a future writing. For our Christmas Present, we will all give gifts, feeling obligated, or otherwise, we will smile more than usual, display more than our standard modicum of respect and concern for others, sing songs of praise (for those who believe) or songs of merriment and good cheer (for those who do not), some of us will even make an (obligatory) annual visit to church and, in general, rise above the Human Condition for a time, then once again return to our everyday lives, the better for our period of uplifting. I guess my prayer for Christmases To Come must be that, this year, while we are all in the “uplifted state” – we could look around and see how much better everything is from that vantage point. And that, while so doing, we could realize another great truth about Christmas time uttered by Kris Kringle in the same film:
“If you can’t accept anything on faith, then you are doomed to a life dominated by doubt”
More on this idea in later entries. Surely, the coming (and passing) of Christmastime brings a period of uncommon light to the world, and leaves a sense of longing in it’s wake. For myself, the Spirits of Christmas Past inform my enjoyment of Christmas Present and, I trust, shall do so for the remainder of my “To Comes”
In the interim – have a a blessed (believer or not) holiday; enjoy our “uplifted time” – and may you find a piece of God’s love, or at the very least, a spot of tranquility you can cling to for the rest of the year!