Note From Trish: The Meaning of Christmas
Suddenly this year every time a commercial for anything toy-related comes on, I hear: “I want that. I want that from Santa!” My son is now four and understands the reality of a plump, white guy squeezing down our chimney and popping out through our non-working fireplace. Or should I say, he has parents who can afford to buy the plastic item he so desires; one that comes with such an exorbitant amount of packaging that I growl and mumble words I really should never utter, even in a drunken stupor (been wondering when I could use that term!).
The thing is, it begs the question: What does Christmas really mean? I know what it means to my four year old and at this point, it’s not about the goodwill of his fellow people. It’s about get get get. And I get it, because I was the same when I was that young. He’ll learn, as he gets older.
When I was a kid, we were urged heavily (forced) to go to church around that time of year so whether we liked it or not, we were swallowed up in a tale being told for a period of time and you know what? It felt nice.
It felt nice because being surrounded by goodwill and gratitude can make for a very warm feeling. The smell of incense, the quiet murmur of family members shuffling into their pew, my grandma’s wrinkled hands passing me a white oval mint—these are memories so palpable, I can close my eyes today and go there for a moment. I can feel that combination of peaceful happiness and utter anticipation.
Nowadays, I don’t attend church very often. And my kids have basically never even seen the inside of one. Does that make me a hypocrite to celebrate Jesus’ birthday when I don’t follow him? I don’t think so. From what I know about him, he was a reasonable guy; a pretty Zen dude, if you will. I believe that the whole tradition was built around giving and receiving, and the goodwill that creates whether you’re inside of a church or on a street corner.
It is the basic foundation for every Christmas story ever told: Christmas is a time to give of yourself, to help somebody else, to cause change for the better, to be good. It’s about family, friends, and lovers coming together and feeling the significance of having love in our lives. It is not just a toy score for children; simply put, it’s a special time for everyone to just be good. My kids may not be forced to go to church and have communion but, for us, our church will be a shelter for people in need. I think they might just get the meaning then.
I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season!
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