Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas: The Spirit of the Season

In the novel A Christmas Carol, Scrooge is a miserly soul whose only concern is money and gain.  Ironically, Scrooge does nothing with his vast wealth, not even making himself comfortable until he is visited by three spirits who show him the error of his ways.  Of course, some would argue in this era of crass commercialism that some cynicism is in order.  After all, we are bombarded with ads for expensive goods at the holiday season, and all of these ads seemingly only want our money.  Any of us would have to be millionaires to afford all of the products pushed by vendors. I, too, become disillusioned with the commercial aspect of the holiday.  At times, Christmas buying has resulted in violence, even death.  Remember a few years ago in the States when customers at a Wal-Mart pushed through the doors before the store officially opened? A security guard was trampled, and the shoppers were upset when the management closed the store so that EMTs could tend to the dying man.  Where was the true Christmas spirit in those people as they ran over their fellow human being?

It is because of the vastly commercial nature of modern Christmas that I referenced Dickens' tale.  When I feel that I am becoming like Scrooge, I think of Dickens' amazing story and its lesson.  Some people scoff at the story's piety and unapologetic mysticism, but what the story shows is that the season should be a time of generosity originating from the soul.  I don't think Dickens--or God, for that matter-- would advocate such reckless spending that we all go bankrupt, but I do think that the season is a time to give what we can to those we love and to those in need.  Often, that is not the most expensive toy or item in the store. Sometimes, it is the gift of time and of love.  If we can give, we should think of those in need who may have less this holiday season and spread cheer.  Sometimes that gift may be money but sometimes it may be a smile or an hour of our time.  Yep, this comes from me--the author of historical romances that are often violent. In fact, some people may think it's ironic that I'd be writing about Christmas cheer when Red Rose Publishing is going to publish one of my stories, a story about love gone wrong at a Christmas Eve party, but my story shows how the stress of the season can lead to hurt and humiliation.

People of many faiths celebrate their holidays for various reasons, and those celebrations hold importance to the celebrants for a variety of secular, religious, and sentimental reasons.  Most people remember good times with families and friends at these times in addition to the sacred meaning of holidays like Christmas or Hanukkah.  (I don't mean to leave out any holiday, by the way. Those two have come to mind eaisly). Some of us hurt during the holidays because of losses we've experienced, but these religious holidays should be times of giving from the heart--giving of our love and our treasure if we can afford it.  This season, I've decided I will give to charities providing for needy children.  I'm no millionaire.  I can't give much, but  I will give what I can to help someone.  I also will be more tolerant of the people in my life and tell them I love them, and on Christmas Day, I will light a candle in church for my parents--two people no longer here but who gave me so much.

My prayer for my family and friends is that the joy of the holidays fills their hearts with peace and love.

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