Christmas Day 2014
Remember when you were a kid and you just had to have a new bike for Christmas? Or how about when you were older and you hoped mom and dad would buy you that seniour ski trip? In one of the film versions of A Christmas Carol we see Fred, Scrooge’s nephew give his wife one beautiful piece of jewelry as a christmas gift. In a christmas movie that starred Lee Remick and angela lansbury, we see a long lost love give an aging Pollly holiday a rose and 10 minutes of his time on christmas eve. And in my favorite christmas movie, the film version of the Truman Capote classic A Christmas Memory, we see a child and a simple woman become excited over the creating of and giving of homemade kites.
The gifts that we give and receive are a major part of the Christmas holiday. It is a tradition with which we are raised, since birth. For some, the excitement lies in the giving of the perfect gift and for others in the getting of the perfect present. There is, though, an extreme focus on the gifts at this time of year. I won’t lie: I, too, focus on the gifts — for me, the focus is on the giving. It gives me a thrill to put a ribbon on a package that will make someone feel that they have been seen. It makes me feel useful to do something that says “attention had been paid”. For me that means something homemade, something from my own home, perhaps an act of kindnes .
I have said, publicly, that I don’t really know what Christmas is. I am not a christian so the Jesus thing is rather lost on me; and I have no small children so the Santa thing doesn’t quite resonate with me. I love people, though, and I am addicted to kindness. I try to find the time to bake brownies for the ladies at the bank and the Rite Aid, who I see all year. I try to find a way to show the people that I know that they are appreciated, that they are loved, that they are seen. These last years, wondering what Christmas is, what Christmas is ABOUT, I have had many opportunities to reflect on the birth of Christ, the creation of Santa Claus, the fable of Scrooge and the phrase “peace on earth, good will to all men”. In the film THE BISHOP’S WIFE, David Niven preaches “…let us each put in his share. Loving kindness, warm hearts and the stretched out hand of tolerance. All the shining gifts that make peace on earth.”
Many minutes have passed during which I have wandered the streets of Manhattan at night in the wee small hours of Christmas morning, asking the God with whom I share a relationship, what can I do to, properly, observe Christmas? How can I keep Christmas in my heart all year long if I don’t even know what Christmas is?
On this Christmas Day, as I walk the maze of memories, I see the answers to my question. The answers are in the faces that I see; the faces of loved ones, knowing they have been seen – the faces of strangers upon whom this stranger bestowed a moment of kindness. The answers are in the lessons I have been taught by struggle, adversity, heartbreak and hard work. The answers are in the messages heard while in the act of prayer. The answers are in the observation of acts of kindness granted me by others. The answers are in the simple looking upon of the faces that make me happy.
On this Christmas Day I remember, in some way, each person and each moment that has lead to this moment and this person that I am. This is just another day for me; it is just another day because, like every day I awaken, I am focused on the people I love, the God I walk beside, the lessons learned and taught and the hope that encompasses all of that.
My greatest hope is that those I love know the depth of my love. Today and every day. And, for me, that makes every day Christmas Day.