It’s that time of year again! The holidays have arrived! We’re coming up on Thanksgiving and then Christmas is just around the corner! I love the Spirit of the holidays! People are usually kinder, they go out of their way to help others, and there are countless festive celebrations all across the globe. The Spirit of Love seems stronger and can soften even some of the most hardened hearts.
Sadly, also during the holidays, the drama about there being a war on Christmas rears its ugly head, people start getting nasty with each other, and the Spirit of Christmas goes right out the frosty window. Friends, there is no war on Christmas. The only war on Christmas is the one being perpetuated by those who are saying there is a war on Christmas. If there was an actual war on Christmas, there would be a Federal law banning it and anyone caught celebrating in any way would be arrested and thrown into prison. Calling it a war is an insult to anyone who has ever fought and/or died in an actual religious war where there were bombings, shootings, countless deaths, and people’s lives being torn apart.
Starting even before we get through Halloween, Christmas decorations start going up and stores begin promoting their holiday products. Lights go up outside of homes. Nativity scenes and other Christmas characters are put in yards. There are Christmas movies galore on TV. About every other commercial is about Christmas. Santa Clauses appear everywhere. People wear Christmas clothes and jewelry. Look anywhere and you will see the signs of Christmas. (Anyone remember when none of this would start until the day after Thanksgiving?)
What we can’t do is to force a religion or holiday onto anyone else. We can certainly have our beliefs and celebrations while at the same time showing respect for others to do the same with theirs. It is more important to have Christmas in our hearts than all the outward trimmings. Love, peace, kindness, and compassion are all a part of this Spirit and it comes from within. You will know those who understand the true Spirit of Christmas by their words and actions. Christmas should only be about the love; the love that Jesus taught. And isn’t Christmas supposed to be about celebrating Jesus’ birth? Isn’t Jesus called “The Prince of Peace?” Don’t we say “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men?” Shouldn’t love and peace be the priority during the holiday season?
If we can get rid of all the Christmas trees, decorations, movies, commercials, gift giving, Santa Clauses, etc., as well as stop fighting and arguing about whose holiday we should celebrate, what greeting we should say, and what decorations should be displayed, then we can truly understand the real Spirit of Christmas. To be clear, there are many people who do understand the true Spirit of Christmas and can still have all that goes with it. They know that the true Spirit means loving one another, honoring everyone’s holidays, and respecting their right to do so. Many even joyfully share with each other their various celebrations!
There are also other holidays during this season. Hanukkah, Bodhi Day, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr, Omisoka, Yule, and numerous others. Yet we rarely hear about any of these anywhere, if at all. They know the true Spirit of their holidays and they know they don’t have to be commercialized to be enjoyed.
Let us please stop this nonsense over the most ridiculous issues (including a red coffee cup; it’s just a cup!). Let’s come together in the true Spirit of Christmas and all the other holidays and love one another. Say whatever greeting you believe in saying, but if someone should say a different greeting to you, please respect their right to do so. In the spirit of love, maybe you could even say theirs and yours together in return! And please don’t correct them to say the greeting you think they should say. How many of us have had someone get spiteful with us because we didn’t say their preferred greeting? Not everyone is a Christian, nor does everyone celebrate Christmas, and that’s their right.
Ruth Carter Stapleton said, “Christmas is most truly Christmas when we celebrate it by giving the light of love to those who need it most.” And Calvin Coolidge stated, “Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”
Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper November 20, 2015.