What Is Your Reason for the Season?

christmas 2007

(Photo credit: paparutzi)

 My weekly newspaper column:

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

 It is hot (as in 40 degrees C) in Australia right now, which could explain why a blog friend of mine has decided to discard Christmas for the time being. But her real reasons are far beyond the discomfort of the heat.  Her husband is in a nursing home with advanced Parkinson’s; her teenage son has back surgery on Tuesday; the same son was in an awful accident not too long ago which put several of his younger cousins in the hospital — he has been charged and must go to court and may face jail—all because he was trying to give them a bit of fun; her stove has stopped working so there is nowhere to cook the turkey; and she just cannot face the added pressure of shopping and decorating and cooking for Christmas. When she broached the subject with her son, he agreed—in light of all that was going on in their lives, Christmas was not a bright light, but a responsibility which overshadowed their joy.

         

English: First Omagh Presbyterian Church - Mid...

Presbyterian Church –  Taken at noon on Christmas Day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

   They did make one concession though. They are going to go to church on Christmas. My first reaction when I read of their decision to forego the splash that is Christmas was one of pity, and I could not help but think about what they would miss out on. But are they really missing out? They have made a decision to celebrate what they truly believe Christmas is about—the spirituality, and erase all the extras, except for a visit from the son’s grandma which was his one concession to the season.

            I love the hurly burliness of the Christmas season and even when I have had to face the loss of some of those closest to me at the “happiest” time of the year, I have been able to celebrate, though a bit more sombrely and with a little less sparkle.  I find the Christmas season cheers me up—there is something in the air and it seems merrily contagious.  For the most part people are kinder, they smile more, and they greet friends and family and even strangers a bit more heartily. The lights on our trees and houses and decorations bring a brightness to an otherwise dark time of year.

            I love all the things Christmas—but I understand when the pressure to create a perfect holiday makes it less than merry and bright. Some people find blessings in the spirituality of the season and like my Australian friend this year discard what they think of as the commercialization and crassness of Christmas. I embrace the spirituality of the season, but the others parts of Christmas are close to my heart too. Yes, Christmas has been commercialized, but we can make our choice as to the extent we want that aspect to enter into our celebrations.

          

Cover of "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole...

Cover via Amazon

  I think Dr. Seuss had something when he had the Grinch (of How the Grinch Stole Christmas fame) reflect on what Christmas was all about. This excerpt from the book (and movie of the same name) says it all: “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

            Humourist Dave Barry puts a little different perspective on the whole question of Christmas, and though skewed for laughs, he covers several bases:“In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it ‘Christmas’ and went to church; the Jews called it ‘Hanukkah’ and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say ‘Merry Christmas!’ or ‘Happy Hanukkah!’ or (to the atheists) ‘Look out for the wall’!”

            Only you can answer the question of the meaning of Christmas and only you can decide how to celebrate it.  I am kind of partial to how President Calvin Coolidge defined it on Christmas Day, 1927 in his Presidential address: “Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”

What does Christmas mean to you?

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15 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Sometimes Christmas can be a real downer for folks. I choose to open my heart, share love and enjoy the spiritual aspects of the season. I need to do that, since I am the only one in this household that thinks Christmas is special.

  2. Christmas is a time to share traditions that nourish the soul, whether it’s baking cookies, eating turkey, seeing family and friends, reading Twas the Night Before Christmas to my grand daughter, and driving my family crazy by singing Christmas carols. I love it all, the simple and the extravagant.

    Love the line from Coolidge, “be plenteous in mercy.” I will work on that. Enjoyed your post Lou.

  3. […] What Is Your Reason for the Season? (onthehomefrontandbeyond.wordpress.com) […]

  4. Sometimes I think the John Grisham “Skipping Christmas” idea sounds like a great idea. But I could never really do it. I do hope to have a more relaxed Christmas this year. And we have plenty of snow here, so hopefully we’ll have a white Christmas.

  5. I’m with President Coolidge on this one. It should be about what something more internal rather than focusing on all the external (though I will say I appreciate all the twinkling lights, sparkly decor, and winter green wreaths everywhere). I’m like you in that I enjoy all things Christmas, provided that you don’t get carried away with all the consumerism and image of perfection that people always seem to get carried away by.

  6. I am all about keeping it simple this year. I’m not currently driving or very mobile, so we are conserving energy and taking it easy on ourselves. That’s not to say that we aren’t still having 20 for dinner on Christmas Day (we always do), but we are doing prime rib instead of the usual 30 lb turkey that you have to get up early to stuff and fuss over all day. Our baking was done by a relative as a gift, so mostly we can relax and enjoy the company of friends and the neighbours that join us for dinner. We always try to keep the gift giving scaled down too – trying to keep the kids from seeing it as a season of excess and more of a family time.

  7. Christmas brings so many wonderful memories of knowing that baby Jesus was born, but also the excitement of Santa. Some believe that Santa should not be included in the celebration….but I look at Santa as ‘tradition’… a fun tradition. All I asked for each Christmas was either a doll or maybe clothes for a doll. And each Christmas I would get one. I knew it had to be from Santa for real because my Mommy couldn’t afford to go and buy any toys for all of us!

    Yes there is excess sometimes ‘when allowed’ in Christmas but hopefully the real meaning of love, family, tradition and sharing will always remain first and foremost. Diane

  8. […] What Is Your Reason for the Season? (onthehomefrontandbeyond.wordpress.com) […]

  9. Love this post! And I can identify with a lot of what you say…several family members are ill and facing end chapters, which is sad to watch…hard to get into the full Christmas spirit when my conversations with family I’ll be seeing are full of sadness. But there is still some joy to be had, and there is more to celebrate than the personal ups and downs of individuals. It is about the bigger story, and that doesn’t change. ~ Sheila

  10. You may be the first person I know who has quoted Coolidge. I agree, it is a state of mind. he don’t do a lot of the hoopla. instead we spend time together having fun.

  11. Excellent reading this morning LouAnn. Good morning.

    • Good morning my friend–I am neither wide eyed or bushy tailed this morning yet

      • And neither am I. And it’s 6pm. Long day. Hope yours was better.

  12. […] What Is Your Reason for the Season? (onthehomefrontandbeyond.wordpress.com) […]

  13. […] What Is Your Reason for the Season?  (onthehomefrontandbeyond.wordpress.com) […]


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