I love this time of year. Christmas has always been a magical time for me, the time when hope and joy are a palpable part of life. The giddy anticipation of children and adults alike permeates all as we look forward to that wild orgy of opening presents, visiting family, and warm fellowship. My son has been asking every day since the start of the season, “Open presents?” Seeing his anticipation and decorating the tree with all the cute ornaments he crafted at school makes it for me. Am I the only one waiting breathlessly for Christmas just to see the look on my kid’s face when he discovers what Santa left him?
With the recent tragedy in Connecticut, as well as too many other places, my son’s enjoyment of the holiday season is even more poignant. I think of all the families whose season is one of profound loss. I think of how they more than ever need a world united in love.
You’ll note I use the word ‘holiday’ a lot rather than just Christmas. It’s not to be ‘politically correct’. It’s because I have been blessed with so many friends and loved ones who don’t celebrate just the Christian season. This amazing time of year is shared with those who celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the winter solstice. The miracle of lights, celebration of one’s heritage, and commemorating new beginnings are all worthy observances. To me, there is room for all these joyous holidays.
This is a time of coming together, not driving apart. The love and peace commanded by our respective beliefs leaves no room for division. As the Christian bible tells us: Suddenly a whole group of angels appeared saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" The italics are mine because I think it is important to note the messengers of God proclaimed goodwill for us all ... not those who think like us, not those who look like us, not even those who worship like us ... but for all of mankind.
Jesus himself pointed out that those you don’t agree with are to be treated with love and respect. In his time, Samaritans were hated by Jews, and vice versa. Yet his parable of the good Samaritan helping the Jewish man who’d been beaten and robbed when others passed him by is one we’re all familiar with. It illustrates that we should always turn to each other in fellowship and kindness, no matter differences in beliefs.
It is this spirit that I look to during the holidays, and why I am not affronted by those who wish me a “happy holiday” rather than a “Merry Christmas”. That you care enough about me to offer greetings of goodwill is a gift I do not take for granted.
To all my family, friends, and readers, I wish you all the peace and joy the season brings. May your celebrations be filled with delight, wonder, and love.