Christmas is the transcendent holiday of our culture. It is a Christian holiday, reflecting our nation’s history as a colony and refuge for Europeans.
But its appeal and the trappings of its celebration reach beyond the holiday’s deep sacred meaning for Christians, and it has become something not greater, but broader, more encompassing.
The symbols are everywhere. Its celebration seems at times to have been appropriated entirely by commercial interests and pop culture foolishness, leading to concerns among some of the devout that the true meaning of Christmas is lost.
Do not fear.
The message is alive and shines for all to hear. Peace on earth. Goodwill to all. Caring and sharing with the least among us. There is also forgiveness. People don’t always live up to ideals. But we all know that charity, and not buying stuff, is the message and meaning of Christmas.
All the tinsel, canned music, TV specials, and Fingerling toys cannot diminish the power of Christmas and its message of goodness. What power the story holds. There’s a shining star, shepherds, and angels. There’s no room at the inn, and a child is born in the hay, to be presented with gifts by kings and worshiped as a savior, the world’s hope.
And our pervasive celebrations of the holiday — the music, the decorations indoors and out, the parties, the bell-ringing, card-sending, gift-giving, the charitable collections — change our streets, our communities, our lives each December.
It’s all an assertion, a belief in the Christmas story’s promise. A promise that the world, so often disappointing and unjust, or inwardly painful, holds the seeds of something finer. Something better, more generous and forgiving. This world can be transformed. This world can be reborn.
That is the magic of Christmas, echoed and asserted each December with all those front yards filled with colored lights. With all those fake white beards. With all those tired shoppers sporting red hats with white fur trim.
The meaning is not lost amid the music and glittering lights. The story and its promise are too powerful.
The real Christmas lives.
And it will live on as long as there are people to tell the tale, A tale of a journey and a star-filled night. A tale of a birth invested with the sacred and the holy. A tale of the world made better. A tale of belief. — M. Reid