Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Grinch and A Scrooge Learn the Meaning of Christmas

American humorist and radio personality Garrison Keillor wrote:

A lovely thing about Christmas is that it's compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.

Keillor’s quote is a definition of Christmas in a most humorous way.  But his quote does have some validity for many of us regarding this holiday that can either be loved or despised.

As with many of us, as we grow older and have life experiences our view of religion or our own spirituality can be strengthened or weakened.  For many, the Christian experience can be a roller coaster ride as we search out for the true meaning of not only Christmas but also the meaning of our very human existence.  

For this non-practicing Catholic, Christmas has been that reminder for me of my own up and down Christian experience.

While Christmas is meant to be a joyous occassion, for some of us Christmas might not be the best time of year.  Fortunately we are not alone and this ambivalence to Christmas has been recognized in literature and theater.

Dr. Seuss' Grinch, Charles Dickens' Ebenezer Scrooge, as well as  the many seasonal Hallmark movies are classic stories how very hardened critters and men have had their hearts enlarged or warmed as they finally recognize the simple beauty of the holiday as not being only defined by gifts.

I had that Christmas roller coaster ride. As a kid, I loved the holiday and the anticipation of Santa Claus, cookies, gifts, people getting together, and the finale of a decorated Catholic church with a Nativity Scene. 

As a teen and younger adult, for some reason that I cannot really define,  I dreaded the holiday and how this very simple holiday became complicated by commerce. 

Until recently, my dread turned to hate in regards to Christmas. 

But gradually my view softened to quiet acceptance.  Christmas was meant to be a simple celebration and not to be defined by Wall Street.   

For most people, Christmas is the birth of the Son of God.   For others like me, Christmas is the recognition of the birth of the Greatest Philosopher whose very simple teachings transformed the world. 

As of this Christmas, my immediate family and close friends are alive and well.  As most of us have learned, Christmas is about the family getting together and recognizing the real reason for the Christmas celebration. 

For many, Christmas Day will be a joyful day of gift giving and feasting. 
As we age, inevitably all our families and circle of friends will become smaller  to celebrate Christmas.   This year, and really it is every year, for someone,  Christmas day will be a painful void as they yearn for the loved ones who are deceased or unable to be physically with them on this holiday.

Whether we are emotionally  hurting or experiencing unbridled joy,  Christmas is the one celebration which pulls out the many emotions which define our humanity.  

In Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas,  the Grinch realized that Christmas was more than just packages and good food.  Dr. Seuss summed it up best when he  wrote:

Christmas doesn't come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more....

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