We have a lot to celebrate this holiday season. Among our blessings is the fact that we didn’t all perish last week as many pundits believed the Mayan calendar predicted we would (see my post entitled Unless the Mayans Were Right — Welcome to the New Year). Our ancestors from the northern hemisphere were smart to initiate one of the most festive holidays of the year in the midst of winter’s gloom (maybe you folks down under should come up with one of your own festive holidays for June!). An article on the History Channel site reports:
“The middle of winter has long been a time of celebration around the world. Centuries before the arrival of the man called Jesus, early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. Many peoples rejoiced during the winter solstice, when the worst of the winter was behind them and they could look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight.”
In countries that celebrate the Christmas season (which now often begins before Thanksgiving in the United States), children and adults alike have come to cherish the lights, the carols, and the warm feelings of giving that are associated with it. Although Christmas is a religious celebration associated with the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, even many non-Christians get caught up in the sentiment and trappings of the season. What I like most about the season is the generosity associated with it. Thousands of organizations in the United States provide drop-off points for the United States Marines’ Toys for Tots campaign. Dedicated Salvation Army bell ringers man their kettles to collect cash for those in need. Food banks hold drives to replenish their shelves for the months ahead. And, in the past, few years, good Samaritans have gone into big box retail stores that have lay-away plans and have paid off the toy purchases for total strangers. That is the spirit of the season that I enjoy each year. The poet E.C. Baird wrote about the “Christ Spirit” in a poem of the same name. He penned:
I am the Christmas Spirit—
I enter the home of poverty, causing palefaced 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 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 for a little moment forget the things that are small and wretched.
I am the Christmas Spirit.
If you are looking for worthy organizations to donate to this holiday season, Nicholas Kristof recommends the following:
Heifer International (heifer.org) — donate money to purchase farm animals
International Rescue Committee (rescue.org) — donate money to send an Afghan girl to school
Shining Hope for Communities (shininghopeforcommunities.org) — donate to help fight against social injustice
The Hawa Fund (vitalvoices.org/hawafund) — donate to support a hospital, school and refugee camp in war-torn Somalia operated by Dr. Hawa Abdi.
There are opportunities to help everywhere you look.
I hope that this holiday brings you much joy and happiness. The late President Calvin Coolidge wisely stated, “Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” From all us at Enterra Solutions, we wish you a very, merry Christmas.