(I wrote this post four years ago and thought I would share it again this Christmas Day. Merry Christmas to all.)
This year is the first time I can ever remember not having much Christmas Spirit.
Honestly I’m not really sure what Christmas Spirit is so I thought I would write about it to see if it helps me figure it out.
I guess most people would say Christmas Spirit is the feeling of joy and the spirit of giving.
I know when I was a kid Christmas was the most anticipated time of the year. The joy and the spirit of giving wasn’t the reason for the excitement, it was the joy of getting.
I was a kid and that’s what Christmas was all about. It was the one time of the year (besides your birthday) that you got gifts, nice gifts.
But it wasn’t totally about me and what gifts I was going to receive. I also loved the family getting together, the lights, the trees and the special once a year food. (Steamed shrimp, yum / fried oysters and oyster pie, yuck) Christmas Eve was the only time of the year my grandma got out her fine punch bowl and filled it with ginger ale and scoops of orange sherbet.
I grew up but hung on to the love that I had for Christmas.
I had children of my own and saw the joy of giving. I saw the excitement in their eyes; the anticipation in their words and this helped renew the “magic” of Christmas.
Now the children are grown up, family has moved or passed away and the “magic” of Christmas has become a fond memory. Christmas has started to become a bit of an inconvenience.
This year I was asked “What do you want for Christmas?” My answer was “I want it to be over.”
I have never felt that way before.
I think about how this time of year people seemed to be a little nicer, a little merrier, but even that part of the Christmas “magic” has started to fade away.
How about this for an answer.
When I was a kid you didn’t see one, not one single Christmas decoration in stores or on homes until the day after Thanksgiving.
There were no department store Santa Claus, no Christmas displays and no Christmas carols until the day after Thanksgiving.
Santa Claus’s official arrival, which signaled the start of the holiday season, was at the very end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and not before.
It all coincided with Advent.
Advent : “coming” – The coming of Christ both birth and return.
I remember the excitement would start to build when we went to church and the Advent wreath and candles came out. Each week they would light one of the four candles and on Christmas Eve they would light the one in the middle.
The Christmas holiday season started only four weeks before Christmas day.
Now you walk into a store before Halloween and the Christmas stuff is out.
Radio stations start the Christmas carols in November and TV starts the endless drivel of sappy, bad Christmas movies before all the leaves are off the trees.
I know we have infused a number of Pagan rituals into Christmas, but that is not what has reduced Christmas to an advertiser’s and retailer’s banquet.
By stretching out this “magical” time of year we have done what we do to everything that is meant for the masses. We have trivialized it.
We have stretched it out week after week until all the lights, sounds and feelings have become commonplace almost an irritant.
It’s like the now classic Christmas movie “A Christmas Story”.
I remember the first time my family sat down to watch it. My kids were around seven and eleven years old at the time. The movie had already been out for a number of years but we had never seen it.
Now after seeing this movie a gazillion times (some stations have it on 24 hours straight) the luster starts to come off. It becomes common place and then annoying.
Disney World can be a “magical” place but go spend every day at the Magic Kingdom for three solid months and see how “magical” it is at the end of those three months. You’ll be ready to put Mickey in the most sadistic mouse trap imaginable.
Soon “Christmas in July” won’t be some novelty pitch by a radio or TV station, it will be for real, just as long as there is money to be made.
This brings me back to where I started.
Let’s strip away all the traditions, all the food and parties, all the lights and trees and songs. Let’s forget about all the movies, TV specials and advertisements.
What about the Christmas Spirit?
What is it?
What is Christmas about?
Is it the celebration of the birth of Christ?
What is Christ?
John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Christ to me is unconditional love.
Unconditional love, what is that?
Unconditional love is defined by what Christ did.
Unconditional love, you would die, sacrifice yourself so others may live.
That is the ultimate sacrifice, the ultimate gift, life.
So what do we celebrate at Christmas? The birth of Christ and through that we celebrate life and unconditional love.
Christmas Spirit is unconditional love.
But today that seems to be the farthest thing from anyone’s mind at Christmas time. From the greed of people and businesses to those who are “offended” by the word Christmas, unconditional love seems to something that died a long time ago.
Christmas Spirit has to live in our heart. Christmas Spirit has to live in our heart everyday and that is really, really, really tough to do.
Christmas Spirit can’t be placed in our heart by some sappy TV special or even a classic piece of theater or literature.
We have to set it in our heart every day and we have to keep it there every day. It’s a chore and I know I fail at it every day but I also know I have to keep trying every day.
Every day should be Christmas.
Every day our heart should celebrate the birth of Christ and every day our heart should be filled with Christmas Spirit, unconditional love.
This is the gift we were all given by God and need to celebrate every day.
Everything else is humbug.
Merry Christmas today and every day.
© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.