Steven Craig: Christmas spirit: alive and well
Christmas is, without question, my favorite time of the year. Oh, I love the decorations, the presents, the carols and the lights, but none of these are what make Christmas so special to me. Even in the midst of this cynical age, Christmas itself still means something to me. What I believe in, what I always hope to believe in, is the true Christmas spirit.
This is not to say that I am particularly on board with the essential religious aspects of the holiday. My personal religious views are irrelevant here, but suffice it to say that I do not subscribe to the original significance aligned with this date. Still, regardless of whether one recognizes the religious symbolism of the holiday, the spirit of Christmas endures. Offices hold workplace get-togethers, old friends make that annual visit to people they rarely see, families gather together, and whole communities attend tree lighting ceremonies, etc. Many of my Jewish friends, in fact, join in celebrating Christmas because they too appreciate the communal spirit of brotherhood that Christmas engenders.
There are those out there, however, who will tell you Christmas has lost that spirit, that the holiday has been usurped by a commercialism that eats at the very core of what it represents. They have a point. Watching tensions flare as store patrons fight over parking spots or that one toy every kid just needs to have that year can make one question what our civilization has devolved into. Certainly, in the midst of all the time pressures the season creates, we all sometimes forget to take a moment to sit back and remember that the Christmas season is about appreciating the people who make our lives special, not the gifts we buy them.
Just as important, it is about forging that essential connection to all of our brothers and sisters in the human race. A crucial element of that is helping those in our community not as fortunate as ourselves, be that financially, emotionally or physically. After all, the tradition of gift giving during this season is predicated on the three wise men traveling to Jerusalem to deliver gifts for the newborn king, who was really but a pauper.
This all reminds me of one of my favorite Christmas memories. It was 1989, and I was at home visiting my friends and family during my winter break from college. My friends and I were out on the town and had stopped at McDonald’s for a quick bite to eat. As we were ordering, a woman came in, shivering from the subzero New England night and asking desperately if she could use the phone. I asked her what the problem was and if we could help. She told us that her car would not start and she had no other way to get home.
Although I had not been anticipating much time outdoors and thus was wearing only a thin jacket and no gloves, I offered to go outside and jump-start her vehicle. It took a few minutes, but we got it started. The woman was overjoyed and tried to shove money into my pocket. Instead, I handed her back the cash and wished her and her family a Merry Christmas. That sense of bonding with my fellow human beings, of being concerned for someone other than myself, was the greatest gift she could have given me.
So take a moment to remember this and help someone else in need this holiday season. I promise you that if you do, you will know, or remember, what the spirit of Christmas is really all about.
Steven is a Silverthorne resident, educator, husband and father of two, and vice-president of the Summit County Library Board. He can be reached at: email@example.com
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