“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,” returned the nephew: “Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round–apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that–as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they were really fellow- passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”Charles Dickens, from A Christmas Carol
This is by far my favorite passage about Christmas, and the one that we send out each year on Christmas day as our quotation of the day. In its few sentences are some of the most powerful words imaginable to describe the wonder that is Christmas, this holiday that allows people to open up their hearts and treat other people just as they are–fellow human beings who are here on this planet for a short while, trying to do the best they can to learn the things they need to learn and become the best people they possibly can be.
Some people do profit from Christmas, of course, but many more don’t, and in fact most people probably come out of Christmas having lost some money, once the prices of presents and postage and parties are all tallied. But that’s not what’s important on this day. This is a day and even a season of kindness, forgiveness, charity, and pleasantness, and it’s up to us how we see it, how we treat it, how we act during it, and what we get from it. If we’re even a slight bit like Scrooge, we’ll get much less enjoyment from sharing this time of openness and fellowship with others. Scrooge saw no profit in the holiday, so he saw no reason to partake in it (though as most readers know, this was his excuse, and he had other problems with Christmas and fellowship).
As men and women “open their shut-up hearts freely” during this wonderful holiday, we can do them and ourselves a huge favor by being there to share what they share, to accept their wishes of good cheer, and to return their openness with some of our own. Christmas seems to help people to take risks that they otherwise might not take, and if we can be there for them to help them to see that their risks were worthwhile, perhaps we can add some small piece of acceptance to their lives, another piece to the puzzles that they are spending their lives putting together.
The holiday of Christmas has grown past its religious roots, and is no longer limited to Christians who are celebrating the birth of their savior. Those humble beginnings, though, are the perfect illustration of just how we all might find the most important things in our lives in the most unexpected of places, in the hearts and souls of the people with whom we share this planet, and who on this day are ready and able to share who they are. Help them to share, and we help ourselves to share.
Questions to ponder:
1. What do you see as the main value(s) of Christmas day?
2. How might you help someone else to share his or her joy on this day?
3. Why do some people see Christmas as an opportunity for profit? Do they gain as much from the holiday if their only focus is money or goods?
For further thought:
I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses.Taylor Caldwell
Credit: Living Life Fully