Saturday, December 5, 2009

So - This is Christmas?

Oh My! How times and I have changed. I’m just baffled by my attitude and no matter what I do trying to get it back to normal, if anything; it gets worse.

I hate winter – I hate snow and ice – I hate being cooped up in the house with its dry, stale air.  I hate having dry, flaky, itchy skin all over my body. I hate having colds, runny nose, choking cough and that general feel bad ache all over. I hate to even think about having the flu. Isn’t it bad enough, being deprived of sunshine and fresh air for months on end, totally dreading next month? January – what a total waste of calendar space. Do you have any idea how much I wish I could hibernate with the Bears and other wild creatures? Just to sleep until Spring; what a blessing that would be.

Instead, I can’t even sleep normally, like ALL NIGHT LONG! I wake three or four times each night, sit up and listen to the cold wind howling around the storm door and shudder at the thought of what it would be like to be outside right now. Wouldn’t you think I’d be glad just knowing that I DON’T HAVE TO LEAVE THE HOUSE IF I DON’T WANT TO? The thing is; I do want to – I NEED TO most desperately. I have gifts to buy for people for Christmas.

Okay! I’m forced to admit it. It appears that what I hate is this Holiday Season and most of all, CHRISTMAS. BAH! Humbug! I’m worse than Scrooge ever thought about being. Not even a few ghosts taking me on spiritual journeys into the past and future could make a dent in my attitude. I don’t have anything against people; I love people. I even like to give them gifts when I have them on hand, but that’s just it, they aren’t on hand. They need to be shopped for and purchased, and wrapped. I’ve given away many of my prized possessions just so I didn’t need to go shopping. If that isn’t desperate, I don’t know what is.

I haven’t always felt like this.  I can remember thirty-two years ago, I was just dating my present wife. We walked hand-in-hand, down the sidewalk in front of all the stores along the main avenue of Newport's shopping center. I had just gotten a very large Christmas bonus from my employer. I had six hundred dollars in my pocket and I didn’t know how to deal with it. It’s a good thing that my girlfriend had her wits about her. She was my advisor. She kept me thinking straight.

Everything was perfect! I was at the mercy of the Christmas Spirit. The lights and decorations, the music and the weather were as they should be at Christmas time. The Lion’s Club had their little booth all set up. The long tray down the entire front covered with chicken wire so no one could do a “snatch and run” theft from the contributions laying there. Coins tossed into it had no problem getting through. You could even contribute a bill of any denomination by rolling it up and sticking it through one of the grid openings. A little further along, there was the Salvation Army’s representative, ringing his little bell, holding that can with the slot in the top. Still a bit further was one of Santa’s Elves, dressed in his Santa costume, standing beside that cast iron pot, ringing his bell too. I put something into every one I came to. It felt so good to give. I had it to share, so why not? Maureen thought it was great that I felt so charitable and generous.

Snow was falling, bells were ringing, carols were permeating my whole being from all directions. People we passed were smiling and laughing, really enjoying the atmosphere and I felt just like them; HAPPY! The air was cold and crisp. I liked being able to see my breath as I exhaled. It was exactly as it should be. It was Christmas!

I’ll never forget those times. The sights, sounds and smells can still be conjured up within my mind. All of that can still be found today. But, where is the happiness and joy?

Last Sunday, I went through my music files on the computer. I have a great music collection, all MP3.s. Over 2.6 GB of them and many of them are Christmas songs. I cued up a long play list, cranked up the volume a bit and let the music waft throughout the whole house. I suppose I was hoping that if I listened to enough Christmas music, that would somehow affect my attitude. It affected it alright, in a negative way. Celine Dione came on singing “So, this is Christmas?” I don’t recall hearing that one before. I ran upstairs and started it over again so I could focus and hear the lyrics. By the time she was done singing, I was in tears.

So, this is Christmas – and what have you done?
Another year over – a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas – I hope you’ve had fun
The near and the dear ones – the old and the young
A very Merry Christmas – and a Happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one – without any fear
And so this is Christmas – for weak and for strong
The rich and the poor ones – the war is so long
And so Happy Christmas – for black and for white
For yellow and red ones – it’s tough where they fight

Those words are in such strong contrast to the true message of Christmas.

The Book of Luke, chapter two:
8: And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9: And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10: And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11: For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12: And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13: And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And so – this is Christmas – or what it was intended to be

When Christmas becomes what God intended, then and only then will this old man know true joy and happiness.

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