Reflections on spirit of Christmas

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CHRISTMAS means different things to different people.

It becomes a time of year when believers, even nominal Christians, focus more on the incarnation of Jesus, or more accurately, Yahushua, the Messiah promised to Israel who would also be a light to the gentiles.

Obviously Christians think about Jesus throughout the year, but this time of special focus – because of the traditional celebration of his birth – allows for greater contemplation.

It is a time of carol services, nativity scenes and readings from the gospels about shepherds, wise men and a stable in Bethlehem.

Having grown up in a church where the traditional celebration of Christmas was not such a big deal, I enjoyed the fact we sang Joy to the World all year round and not just during carol services. In fact, I wish we would sing more of those carols all the time, not just in this prescribed season.

Accompanying the focus of faith, and yet separate from it, Christmas is also about Santa Claus and merriment and the expectation of presents. This aspect is mostly for children, and there is joy and innocence in it, and I’m sure parents feel as much delight as their youngsters when they watch them unwrap their gifts.

The Santa Claus side of Christmas has also delivered inspiring stories like Miracle on 34th Street.

As children grow up, however, they realise as much as adults do, how Christmas is also about crass commercialisation and a culture of accumulation and excess.

This side of Christmas should dismay us. At one time or another I’m sure we have all been guilty of buying into this culture, or merely going with the flow.

When I lived in the US, there used to be a joke about how it was considered commercial etiquette by stores to wait until after Thanksgiving before putting out all the Christmas products and related advertising tinsel.

Now we have Black Friday in this country, without any connection to the American Thanksgiving. That we adopted the commercial overflow of a foreign holiday, without even the context for it, is hilarious and pitiful at the same time.

Even darker and more sombre aspects accompany this season of jollification when we see road fatalities soar at this time of holiday travel, the increase of drunken revelry, obnoxious behaviour and lack of self-restraint which sometimes leads to death, as in the case of the young man who went swimming at the no-swimming West Beach.

We hope the original meaning of Christmas gives people pause and make the right choices this holiday.

– Jon Houzet

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