The True Meaning of Christmas

Today is Christmas Day. We all like Christmas. A day of  gifts and  overeating. A day with no work except for those  in  service businesses. A time to reflect 2122063264_b9b35d91d5_zand look back on the previous year and forward to the next.

As a child I always looked forward to Christmas. We had stockings, a tree, lots of brightly  wrapped presents. I never even realized we were jewish until I was a teenager and we occassionaly  celebrated  Hanakkah as well. Hanakkah was ok but  never had the attraction for me that Christmas did.

I think I was six before I learned that Santa was not real.  We put the cookies out for him and even the milk. It was really exciting to me and I was amazed at the miracle of the presents appearing as if by magic. Of course as I grew older I started to catch on and even found the closet where the presents were being stored. Didn’t really change my enthusiasm or appreciation for the time of year and the  occasion. I was living on the east coast and more often than not we did have a white Christmas with lots of snow and  the opportunity to stay indoors and play with our new toys.

Today I live in Southern California. Christmas does  not seem the same and  not just because a cold day is fifty, not thirty degrees and there is no chance of  snow. We still have beautiful Christmas lights and there is caroling and lots of homes going all out with Christmas displays. People are generally kinder this time of year though I notice they are also quite stressed. Shopping  is non stop and seems to have become a contact sport even at  our quaint Seaside Market with  shoppers jostling and bumping into each other.  At least they smile and   say “beg your pardon” but not quite the same Christmas spirit I remember as a child.

Television stations air  the traditional and  new Christmas shows ranging from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas to Charlie Brown and Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. Last  night Gayle and I  caught the original  1925 silent version of  Ben Hur on Turner Classic Network. I had seen the modern version but had never realized that it  was just a remake of what was already a classic. Ben Hur is really the story of the journey of Christ and the importance of faith and forgiveness. I am all for this story and others that focus on the true meaning of giving and healing.

Our toys may entertain and divert us this time of year but our real joy comes from knowing that there is love and goodness all around us in both seen and unseen dimensions. May your Christmas holiday be full of  joy and may the true meaning of Christmas be with you everyday of the year.

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