OK, here we are in pollen season. Tax day is approaching. Mother’s day is not so far off. So why am I going to publish another piece about Christmas? Why not? Somehow it seems healthier to me to consider the Christmas spirit when I don’t have to worry about presents, or decorations or Christmas music or any of the other seasonal essentials that really have nothing to do with Christmas. Because underneath the wrapping and packages, underneath Santa and Rudolph, completely apart from a beautiful tree and wreaths and lights there is simply… Christmas. It means different things to all of us. It grows and changes as we mature.
Most of us early on, think about what we are getting for Christmas. We can barely sleep because of the packages waiting to be opened. Christ is in there too, and church (I was an altar boy for 6 years. I served at Christmas time…) but for me, it was the presents. As I got older, I become more aware of the gift giving part. “It’s better to give than receive.” So my efforts shifted toward making the best of my limited resources to make sure everyone in my sphere got something from me. In high school and college when I had no money, I would make presents. In some ways those hippie beads and jewelry items may have been the purest of the presents I have ever given. Of course, I remembered the birth of Christ too. And church.
For years I was not a part of any church (except at Christmas and Easter) and it was all about the trappings. When our kids were little and I found my faith again, the focus was on making them happy. I had managed to pass the “tearing into presents” aspect of Christmas on to them. And of course church and pageants and our Christmas feasts all came with the wish to keep “Christ in Christmas” and to remember the “real reason for the season”.
Now, as I keep Christ in my mind, I try to consider at that joyous time of year what he would do, what he would think is important, how he would spend his resources, his time, who he would serve – and he WOULD be serving.
Heidi got this great little bookmark at church this Christmas with the following poem on it. It’s not long. But it says a lot.
The Christmas Spirit – E. C. Baird
I am the Christmas spirit.
I enter the home of poverty,
causing pale-faced children to
open their eyes wide, in pleased
wonder. I cause the miser’s
clutched hand to relax and thus
paint a bright spot on his soul.
I cause the aged to renew their
youth and to laugh in
the old glad way.
I keep romance alive in the heart
of childhood, and brighten the sleep
with dreams woven of magic.
I cause eager feet to climb dark
stairways with filled baskets –
leaving behind hearts amazed at
the goodness of the world.
I cause the prodigal to pause a
moment on his wild, wasteful way
and send to anxious love some
little token that releases glad
tears – tears which wash away the
hard lines of sorrow.
I enter dark prison cells,
reminding scarred manhood of
what might have been and
pointing forward to good days yet to be.
I come softly into the still white
home of pain, and lips that are too
weak to speak – just tremble in
silent, eloquent gratitude.
In a thousand ways, I cause the
weary world to look up into the
face of God, and forget the things
that are small and wretched.
I am the Christmas spirit.
I never managed to get out Christmas cards this year. I usually do. So, if you are a friend (or even if you're not). Merry Christmas. A little late.
In love and friendship, Tim