The Gift of the Christ Child
We pass from year to year in our lives, hoping to take from each a measure of wisdom, and peace. Five years ago I was hardly at peace, and had little wisdom. The loss of my first wife Denise still bore heavily upon me. I was angry that year, and angry the year before. I realize now that I had been angry for some time. I felt that commercial interests were stealing Christmas from me. Cheapening it, and turning its gold into dross. I fumed and fussed over the endless sales, the too early exhortations to buy, spend, and buy some more. I resented stores decorated in October for a retail orgy I was expected to provide. Christmas, I contended, was ruined.
I realize now how wrong I was. No one can take Christmas from me, I alone can surrender it in a sea of meaningless sales pitches. Christmas is mine, to take or to give. It does not belong to a place, or a thing, or even a time. I can have Christmas in the middle of summer's heat, or in the sleepless hours of a September morn.
Christmas is not a thing. Christmas is not a commodity that can be bought and sold. It is an idea as old as time, and as young as tomorrow. It is the idea that one man, or woman, can make a difference. The idea that human life has meaning beyond the mundane tasks of paying the bills and getting through yet another day. The idea that admiring the simple creation of a flower or the smile of a child is as important, if not more important, than getting to work or watching the evening news.
Christmas, the season and the day, is a celebration of the birth of the man that exemplifies this very idea. The one man that proved, once and for all time, that one man can make a difference. This man who confounded the religious scholars of his day is the same man that would "suffer the little children to come unto me". In spite of naysayers, wrong-headed crusades, and politicians disguised as churchmen those ideas, and that ideal, still remains a shining light and example above the din of the madding crowd and the wild ring of cash registers. The idea that in the rush and hurry to do right, we forget the simple task of doing good.
So I urge you each and every one. Take Christmas into your heart, warm it at the family hearth, share it with all those around you. Do not be discouraged by the frowns of those who lack your peace, and do not surrender it to them. Christmas will be exactly what you expect of it, and only what you bring to it. Christmas is the expression of the daunting courage of the human soul, and nothing less.
This is what I have and what I offer. May you find the blessing in reading it that I found in the writing.
-- Garry Stahl, September 1997
First Appeared in the Random Remarks, Christmas issue, 1997 Reedited for general issue 2004.