Updated: Dec 23, 2022
I love hearing this greeting, and Christmas really is the best time of year! Some people don't like Christmas, or at least the public celebration and recognition of Christmas. Often this is based on religious, (or lack of religion), objections.
However, Christmas is a federal holiday, hence recognizing and celebrating Christmas does not require anything more than secular appreciation, just as one might have for other federal holidays such as New Years day or Thanksgiving. If you have religious beliefs about Christmas, that might enhance your appreciation of the holiday, but not having those religious beliefs should not detract from your enjoyment of the day.
Christmas, irrespective of religion, is part of the fabric of our culture. Hence, as an American, you can also enjoy the greeting, even if you aren't Christian.
I have been greeted with "chag Hanukkah sameach", or just simply "Happy Hanukkah", and I was happy for the greeting, even though I am not Jewish. I have been greeted with "Feliz Navidad" which I appreciated even though I am not Spanish. I have been warmed with the greeting, "Joyous Kwanzaa", even though I am not African. One does not often hear the greeting, "Happy Festivus", but it always brings a smile to my face when I do hear it.
Christmas is Much Bigger Than Our Country
and is Recognized Alongside Many Other
Celebrations all Over the World.
The Christmas Truce is one of the most inspirational events associated with Christmas. The Christmas truce was an unofficial ceasefire along the Western Front of the First World War around Christmas 1914. In the week leading up to Christmas Day, French, German and British soldiers crossed trenches to exchange seasonal greetings and talk. Soldiers from both sides of the conflict ventured into No Man's Land on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to mingle, exchange food and souvenirs and join together in singing Christmas Carols. After Christmas, the truce ended and hostilities resumed. There are several films and documentaries that tell the whole story.
The Christmas Truce did not come from the top down, but originated in the hearts of the soldiers in the trenches. These men, took direct action, to act on the feelings of Peace and Good Will inspired by the Christmas Spirit.
Christ, the Author of the Christmas Spirit, provides us with many teachings that could benefit society if the teachings were more widely implemented. Some skeptics doubt Christ's divinity, but His teachings will pass scrutiny regardless of your faith (or lack of faith).
Among His adherents Christ is recognized as the Prince of Peace. Thus the Christmas Truce is not a surprise to Believers. Jesus symbolized His status as the Prince of Peace at His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Invading warriors might storm the City of Kings on a large and powerful steed, invading kings might ride in on a powerful chariot. Jesus, the Prince of Peace came in riding on a young donkey, signaling His peaceful mission.
Although it may be hard to determine Christ's main teaching, love was certainly central to His ideology. It is recorded that He told His Believers:
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (John 13: 34 )
This was, and is, quite a lofty commandment. Being told by Jesus to love one another is one thing, but to love one another "as I have loved you," is quite another thing. Christ put aside His own needs and desires and gave His life to bless others. Hence this teaching requires us to love others enough to sacrifice for them, to put others needs ahead of our own, perhaps even unto death.
Isn't that the heart of Christmas? We give gifts to others, and we are told: it is better to give than to receive. Gift giving requires diverting ones own money and resources from meeting our own needs, to give gifts to meet others needs and desires. Thus Christmas gift giving can be seen as one part of implementing Jesus's high commandment to love others, "as I have loved you".
John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, famously said,
“My fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”
In this quote, he defined patriotism to a generation of people. This exhortation by Kennedy also embodied the basic Christ teaching of putting others needs ahead of our own needs. Kennedy was teaching us that we make the country better by following Christ's teaching.
As we ponder this we might see 2 competing images:
The one image is the person who makes no effort to meet their own needs, let alone others needs, taking advantage of every government benefit and perk available, everything from free housing to food stamps and Medicaid. Their motto is: What's in it for me? This person is very interested in what the country can do for them.
The other image is the hard working person, that goes above and beyond the basic duties of their job description. They go the extra mile, whether it be in commercial employment or in parenting, making society a better place daily, as they routinely meet others needs. Their motto is: What can I do to help? This person is the answer to Kennedy's query, "ask what you can do for your country” and the embodiment of Christ's admonition to love others.
I suppose these 2 people I see in my mind represent the opposite ends of a continuum. Most of us are probably on this continuum, somewhere between these 2 ends.
My Christmas wish for 2023 is that I can move closer to the end of the continuum represented by the 2nd image. Christmas can be a special time of year for me, if I use it as a springboard to become a better patriot and a more loving person.
Take care and BE HEALTHY!
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