A Christmas Wish For You
By now, I believe most of you reading this are awaiting the arrival of Christmas. The newsperson on the TV tells us that Old Saint Nick has left the North Pole on his worldwide trip in just one night-a feat of magic that I still have not figured out, but I guess that is what keeps the magic alive after all these years. The belief perhaps that one last piece of fancy from my childhood is alive, at least in my memory. I look at the night sky and hope to see the sprit of Christmas flash across the sky or maybe it is a UPS jet delivering last minute packages. Whatever that light in the sky, I choose to believe it is the magic of Christmas.
As stores close their doors and turn out lights for Christmas Eve, their accountants are counting profits from the seasonal sales. They hope the bottom line will indicate a good holiday season after all the hard work of the last year. In some ways, retail businesses have become their own seasonal Grinch. They promote holiday sales as early as the first of November. Millions of dollars in advertising is spent to entice you into their stores. Annual Black Friday sales start earlier each year trying to capture more of your hard earned money. Money and profit has replaced joy and happiness as the spirit of the season.
Sales have become such a big part of the season, customers are willing to wait for the best prices to spend their hard earned money-even if the special sales price is the same as it was for the Labor Day sale months ago.
I overheard a couple of ladies talking in the checkout line in early October. One lady told the other, “I finally got the last piece of my Christmas shopping done for the grandkids. I am not going to fight the Christmas rush this year.” Overhearing this, I almost felt the gifts she had purchased were not filled with Christmas magic, but more of a chore to be completed without the aggravation of holiday shopping. I hope when her grandkids open those gifts on Christmas morning they find the joy of the gift and not the sense of relief their grandmother felt when she purchased them months earlier. After all, it was for her more of a job that had to be done early to save the stress of shopping crowded stores as holiday music played in the background.
This special time of year has been part of mankind for 20 centuries. Today, we associate Christmas with gifts and evergreen trees, a tradition that goes back for at least 200 years. The word Christmas did not appear in written history until nearly 1,000 years ago. Christmas originated from the words “Christ’s Mass.” Old English gives us Cristesmaesse-a term we find in history first used in 1038.
The time of celebration began long before there was even a place called America. History of the season has evolved down through the centuries. It has been known as Yule, Mid Winter, and Noel. The time of celebration is traditionally between the beginnings of the winter solstice, until mid-January.
Many of the ideals of Christmas that we know are the result of a book written in 1843 by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. In that popular story, we first came to know the term, Merry Christmas. That same year it is believed the first Christmas card was created. English traditions have been a great influence on many of today’s Christmas standards. It was not until 1885 that Christmas was declared a holiday in America.
For me, Christmas is not complicated; it is a simple thing, if we only take the time to look up. I believe at this time of the year we should look at the stars in the night sky and pause to remember the gospel of Matthew. It tells of a time long ago when the Magi followed a star to a place of overwhelming joy and hope. When they told Herod of Jerusalem where they were going and of the great event that had occurred, Herod was filled with fear. As we look up and remember, we too might well be filled with joy and fear. The old Christmas carol sings of the event in Bethlehem this way: “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
Gospel of Luke: And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria. And all went to be taxed everyone into his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her first born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger: because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shown round them: and they were sore afraid. The angel said unto them, fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
The message of hope from the angel was given 2,000 years ago. Yet, the message is still true for mankind even though he has tried many times to change how it is told. It is a message not wrapped in packages or hanging from a green tree. It is the message that as long as we believe, there is hope. Look up at the stars and remember what the shepherds saw in the cold night sky much like tonight long ago. Perhaps you too will find the true meaning of the season.
From the staff of the Wetzel Chronicle and Mary and myself we wish you a happy holiday season Through the lens.