Christmas Morning in the Christian World
Among all the days of a calendar year, this specific day’s a.m. hours embrace people’s lives with memories of wonderfully magical moments more than any other holiday. Especially if you observe it through the eyes of children, watching their little hearts express a joy immeasurable in the course of their young lives. Packages wrapped in colorful paper with ribbons and bows are torn assunder for their contents. Those containing toys and games are dutifully accepted as bounty in exchange for the smiles and yippees and shouts of glee. Those gift boxes carrying shirts, pants, socks – anything of gay apparel – are tossed to the pile of what’s next?
Parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles become spectators to this ritual, but their hearts are aglow because they know these are junctures in time that their children will hold dear long after these mornings are past.
And so it goes. The Currier and Ives Christmas’ we longed for are at the receiving end of often a financial burden, a season of stress and despair relegated among the marketing of television commercials and seasonal decorations adorning stores while the days are still long. The same thirty to forty songs of the season inundate our airwaves, and are played from overhead speakers in malls and markets, car radios – the monotony of the carols often presented by a new group of artists each year are affixed to our listening sensibilities like a mantra in a hypnotic prayer.
As Christians we “share” our holiday time with the Jewish celebration of Hannukah, The Festival of Lights commemorates the rededication of the the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire of the second century B.C. Though a much older tradition, more steeped in fact, we were taught so little of the story of the eight days and nights, and that is a shame. Recently, Kwanzaa has stepped into the fold. A celebration that honors African heritage in America. The new kid on the block runs for a week, from the day after Christmas right up to the New Year.
For too many, Christmas is a lonely time. The homeless, shut-ins, the sick and disabled, elderly folk with no family: their Christmas memories are either long behind them or they have none at all. If you have any inkling of what the true meaning of Christmas is you’ll understand that these are the folks who are the most blessed among us at this time of year, whether they themselves know it or not. Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” belabors this point precisely, exacting our conscious guilt, if only for a moment, that maybe we should do more for others on this, the birthday of the Christ child.
But still we strive for joy to our world and wait on long lines the day after Thanksgiving for a limited number of some item that, in reality, will come to mean little in the life of the person receiving this gift. Some of us struggle in an almost maniacal state to be the first on the block for something advertising has told us we can’t live without
Better to be at the front of a long soup line at a Goodwill or church, or some other such center with a ladle in your hand on Christmas Eve. With each scoop you pour into the bowl of one of life’s destitute you will see the true meaning of the holiday in their eyes and in their smiles.
Better to stand in the cold on some street corner, or in a mall ringing a bell over a hanging metal pot beckoning alms from those more fortunate to give what they can to feed and clothe the have-nots of this world.
Better to spend your Christmas morning visiting those shut-ins, the sick and elderly who would otherwise not know that in all of mankind their Savior holds them nearest to His heart.
Better to deck the halls of your recollections and instill in the memories of your children the gifts of love and kindness. Those never have to be returned, and they will come to understand what Christmas morning in the Christian world really means.
RjCook is the author of The Road Behind Me & Dream Lover and Other Tales. Click HERE for info.