How to keep Christmas in your heart

First published in Hamilton Spectator January 4, 2001

Isn't it miraculous how a second miracle occurs each Christmas? A feeling of good will seems to creep quietly into the hallways and byways of everyday life. There are people from all walks of life sharing in the giving of the season, from the shaking of hands in our governmental offices to the giving of warm winter clothing to individuals who live on the streets. People raising money for the less fortunate. People preparing meals for those in need. People opening their homes, offering one of the true gifts of this Christmas season, compassion. This festival brings out the best in people. The going of the extra mile is almost an unspoken creed. Although there are numerous beliefs, disbeliefs and customs associated with this festival, the greatest is love for our fellow man. Christmas acts as a bridge, spanning the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

The linking of Christmas to the Christian faith is there, even though Christianity is not universally practised. Through the beautiful songs of the season, through the many practices and customs, the biblical story is forever unfolding in front of our eyes. Many years ago, I accepted the Christian faith. I believe that Jesus Christ was born to save His People from their sins. We celebrate His birth at Christmas. This is where the lines sometimes cross and the old heads bump. Although many of us differ in our position regarding the Christian faith, we probably could agree that Christmas offers our community and our world love, hope and even peace. I have heard it said, that the only way to make hostility disappear is to throw love at it. You literally just throw love at it. Isn't that a radical idea? Love is so powerful! And it is something that everyone can toss!

Isn't this the underlying story/message of Christmas? From the very first Christmas, the yearly event has consisted of, literally, throwing love against all types of hostility - in our work places, in our homes, in our community, in our churches and especially in our world. How do we throw this powerful tool of love and make a difference within each of our lives? Here is my list:

by giving dignity to everyone we know
by sharing a smile with someone each day of our lives
by going easy on ourselves and seeing the roses along our paths (they are there)
by accepting and honouring human life
by picking up one piece of garbage daily (our children need a clean environment in which to play and work)
by being ready to give a hand in need (a returning hand will be there for you)
by each of us keeping a song in our heart (others will hear it)
by refusing to limit our horizons, and trusting in God and His love
by doing to others even better than to ourselves (the deeds will flow back to us)
by keeping Christmas in our hearts daily (our friendship will be on the wanted list of many).

As I look back on this holiday season, I rejoice that the miracle of love, hope and peace appeared in many of our lives. It flew into our houses and ruled over our going and coming. It cut through the dark nights. It was like a beautiful sunrise breaking through to create a brand new day. Without the love, hope and peace of Christmas, we are nothing. With it we are everything.

How many gifts did you get? Did you unwrap the real gift of Christmas? It came with each smile. It was packaged by those whom you love so dearly. It was that feeling you received as you gave each gift. It was love hitting and impacting on our lives as it has done ever since that night two thousand years ago. It was thrown by you and at you with each Christmas greeting!

I wish you the very best for the New Year.

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