I am a Christian; therefore Christmas has a few layers of meaning for me personally. In the very best way, I have the opportunity to relive the joy of Christmas through the excited eyes of my five year old. I also get to dust off the traditions of selflessness and giving that seem to be too quickly forgotten throughout the year. Finally it’s a time for me to take a minute to commune with my maker and indulge in a spirituality that seems to be supplanted by the age in which we live. After saying all that though, there is something else that is a wonder to behold during the holiday season and that is the universality of sharing, giving and fellowship that has been adopted by all who join the celebration at Christmas.
To me it’s a true miracle to see how kindness, selflessness and acts of giving can be so infectious amongst everyone who has adopted Christmas as not only a religious holiday but a cultural one.
There is a dream of Christmas, and in this dream we all try to put forth a better version of ourselves. A self that shines a light on the darker shadow of our nature and puts the suffering of others at the peak of our concern. A self that embraces the love that is not only given by our family, but that which comes from our friends, our community and our nation. Finally, a self that discards concern over that which is received and focuses on that which can be given.
As the weather grows cold our thoughts turn inward and the dream of Christmas takes hold in our hearts. It takes on a life of its own through our children and our community. As we look outward again through the lens of this dream we see those whose circumstance has left them outside the grace of good fortune. With the veil of selfishness lifted we see not only all that which we have but that which we have to give and the dream of Christmas is our enabler.
As we come together, catch up with old friends, embrace family and celebrate our community, we should not forget those who are left outside and alone. Those who need our help are those in which the dream of Christmas is fulfilled. To bring joy where there is none, to give hope in the darkest corners of our human condition, to reach out and bring those on the outside in, this is the joy of Christmas.
As we retreat to our homes on Christmas day and bask in the glow of giving, it’s time to take stock of the toll exacted by our grievances. The price of war, the cruelty of injustice, and the suffering of disparity are the cost of believing that we as a people do not share common ground. We need to train ourselves to look past those that would point out our differences and start listening to the voices that would have us embrace our common humanity. It’s the dream of Christmas that shows us we are more the same than we are different.
The children play with their toys, turkey sandwiches are consumed and a quiet calm descends. Slowly the dream of Christmas starts to give way to the expectation of hope for the New Year. Our Christmas dream has allowed us to look ahead and believe that we can do better, that we can carry on, elevated as our better selves.
So the holidays eventually end, and we are thrown back into the realities of our lives. We reset our focus on survival in the modern world and our minds once again turn to our own situations. Children go back to school and parents go back to work. The world churns along much as it always has, but hopefully the dream of Christmas lingers just long enough to make things a little better and a little brighter. That is until next year when we once again try to find that better version of ourselves.