The true meaning of Christmas? Is it presents? Is it giving? Or receiving? It is enough to make us all feel like Ebenezer Scrooge, especially when the economy is dire. But we must resist the reflex.
I saw a sign the other day that said “Jesus is the reason for the season,” and it got me to thinking. No offense to religious folks, but Jesus has never been the reason for the season. Merchants have made it a time for making money. Everyone, from the bell ringer outside Wal-Mart to the school children selling magazines at the door are seeking money. Even family get into the act, hinting for this gift or that. But Christmas is so much more than a time to get and give presents.
It is a time for connection. It is a time for taking stock and realizing what is truly important. In December in our Northern hemisphere and temperate climate, we feel vulnerable to the elements. We also have shortened days. Our gardens have died, our trees have lost their leaves, and we are forced to spend our days and nights inside the shelter of our homes. It is only natural that we would become somewhat introspective at this time of year. And those of us who are religious will seek the meaning of our lives. I’m not religious in the classic sense of the word. I don’t prescribe to a religion, and don’t like groups. To be effective in a group, you must wear your game face. I find wearing a game face to a church to be a reprehensible act. But there is no way around it, to succeed it must be worn. I can’t be that hypocritical. So churches, sorry, I won’t be darkening your doors to worship the nativity this season.
But I will be buying gifts for my parents, my children and my grandchildren, and I will be spending time with my family and reflecting on what is truly important. As I look around at my family this season, I will treasure every moment, knowing we never realize how lucky we truly are until we aren’t lucky. And the way the world is today, there is no need to dwell on that.