We arrive once again at the longest and most festive holiday season of the year, celebrated by different religions and cultures for different reasons. Common to each however includes increased gatherings of family and friends of some common bond whether religious, competitive (sports) or other reasons throughout the extended holiday season.
Unique to this season, however is the overall atmosphere of love and caring, expressed in various ways with special emphasis placed upon others and children in particular. This holiday season also seems to incorporate the mixed emotions of all the others combined. Such a lengthy time, however can be especially sad or lonely for many who have no close friends, relatives or other ties, whether in comforting institutions or especially at home or for those who may not be able to handle the mercenary emphasis placed upon it.
Some individuals, groups or organizations take great pride in collectively remembering such individuals and needy families while proudly posting their altruistic undertakings for all to see that could cause embarrassment to some while questioning motivation by others. In the Holy Writings of most religions can be found, “Doing right things for wrong reasons nullifies the acts.”
Every holiday has its own unique character. The Easter holidays in early spring signify the end of the long, cold winter and the renewal of life after winter’s dark and dormant season. With the onset of summer we look forward to vacations and celebrate the nation’s birthday with festive picnics, parties and other gatherings complete with jubilant patriotic music and colorful fireworks to epitomize the festiveness of the occasion.
Labor Day at the end of summer represents a last fling before settling into the serious business of school and other uninterrupted work schedules for approximately the next three months. With Thanksgiving comes the first feeling of family, sharing and caring and the official commercial beginning of the Christmas season.
Perhaps our priorities by this time have gotten too far out of kilter. Many are fully aware of the fact that Christ was not born on December 25. This and Sundays were all pagan holidays on which early Christians placed their holy observances, eventually eclipsing the others. The mythical Santa Claus is a character developed from an actual person, St. Nicholas, who lived 300 years AD. He was extremely kind and went out at night distributing gifts to the needy. According to legend he was only a boy when he became a bishop. His reputation of kindness and gift-giving soon became associated with the gift giving customs of Christmas, symbolizing the gifts brought to the Christ Child by the three Wise Men as well as God’s Gift to the world!
Especially this Christmas season, may we each vow to display sincere thankfulness to God (However perceived), not by uttering mere platitudes of appreciation before meals, but by making our individual lives a blessing to all with whom we come in contact (year-round). This can best be achieved by becoming “hollow reeds from which the pith of self has been blown, that we may become clear channels through which God’s Love may flow to others…”
Upon achieving any degree of such fete, however, we are charged: “Let no earthly affections, no worldly entanglements, no ephemeral pursuits, tarnish the purity or embitter the sweetness of that Grace that flows trough!” (Investigate!)