Journey Mercies . . . I BELIEVE in Christmas
Just when the air turns colder and the days shrink into darkness, the Christmas season arrives. It begins at Thanksgiving – with families, feast and football. Then, during the next few weeks we shop and decorate, worship and become transformed into people most of us weren’t weeks before. Our hearts become warm in the winter cold. We miraculously find compassion for strangers, and we believe and remember there are and should be Christmas miracles.
What is it about this holiday wonderment that causes even the crankiest of people to find a small sliver of kindness? Where does the desire to be kind evolve? Are we “acting” kind or is our kindness really genuine? And why does this happen during Christmas, and not all year long? This question begs for an answer. Here are my thoughts:
I BELIEVE in Christmas and the reason we celebrate. I believe in the precious Gift that was given through the lowly birth of the Christ child more than 2000 years ago.
And, I believe that all humans have, deep in their souls, the desire to love and be loved and to give and receive kindness.
What is so amazing to me about Christmas is the transformation that occurs in our hearts. We think back to the days of our own childhood and how we BELIEVED in Santa and his Elves. How we struggled to imagine how Santa could ever bring gifts to our house when we didn’t even have a chimney. But it didn’t matter if you had a chimney or not . . . .the gifts were always there.
I remember one Christmas very well. I couldn’t have been more than 6 years old . . .
I remember laying in bed for what seemed like an eternity, eyes wide open, ears on high alert, waiting to hear . . . what? The sound of hoof’s on the roof or the noise the bells made as Santa encouraged those 8 flying reindeer, whose names we knew better than our own, to land. At one point I did hear something. Was it Santa? Of course it was, it had to be! I can remember my heart beating out of my chest. I don’t know if I was scared that I would see him, or if I was so excited that he could actually be here. It didn’t matter, because the next thing I knew it was Christmas morning and under our tree was a stuffed rag doll of my very own. He HAD been there!
And I BELIEVED for another year.
I don’t remember when I stopped believing in Santa but I’ve never stopped believing in Christmas.
As I watched the magic happen with my own 4 children, it brought back the wonder I had known so many years before. I couldn’t wait to see their faces. And now with my 9 wonderful grandchildren, I have watched it yet again. It made me realize that, as many years as we have, the magic of Christmas will always be seen through the eyes of a child. Any child.
On September 21, 1897, eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Sun to ask the question “Is there a Santa Claus?” Newsman Francis Pharcellus wrote the now famous editorial and in one of the paragraphs he states:
“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would the world be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be quite extinguished.”
I BELIEVE in Christmas. And here is what makes believing so real for me. Christmas brings to all of us a deeper sense of our true selves. None of us are born into this world filled with hatred or unkindness for our fellow man. This is what I know to be true, that during the Christmas season, people reach deep down into their souls and feel the need to show more love and kindness. At no other time of the year do we find more compassion for others than at Christmas. Will we still have the “Uncle Scrooge’s?” Of course we will, but if you remember the old story, “The Christmas Carol,” cold-hearted Ebenezer gradually becomes a champion to the poor. He BELIEVED and found his true self.
I BELIEVE in Christmas and as surely as Christmas rolls around, I believe that the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, goodness, patience and self-control, will play out in a most significant way. I need to be purposeful in my intentions to be as close to those attributes as I can. The choice is mine.
I love this quote by Oren Arnold who offers the following gift suggestions:
“To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.”
Here are a few suggestions on how you can share your gifts with others:
• Sparks of Love – new toy drop off at any local Orange County fire station.
• One Warm Coat – We are proud to be a drop-off location for “One Warm Coat” at O’Connor Mortuary. Bring your clean, lightly worn coats to our Laguna Hills location for donation to a local charity that helps victims of abuse and violence.
• Next Meal Club – Age Well Senior Services bringing hot meals to our Aging Senior Population.
• South County Outreach – Preventing Hunger and Homelessness . . Helping People Help themselves.
What are your memories of Christmas and what does this holiday mean to you?
Closing with a favorite memory from years ago, two of my children and my first-born grandson.
I call it, Waiting for Santa . . .
May Your Christmas be full of family & joy!