as published in the Blytheville Courier News on Wednesday, December 23, 2015
By TOM HENRY
Wow! Christmas is a lot of things and honestly, they are not all good. Christmas is busy, expensive and nerve-racking. But, Christmas is also nostalgic and spiritual. Christmas is peaceful (at times) and love-soaked, while at the same time it is painful and sorrowful. Frankly, Christmas is life compacted, pressed down, concentrated and amplified. I think Christmas is the sum of all human existence. Let me explain.
Christmas, to me, is first and foremost a remembrance and celebration of God’s gift and love in the form of Jesus Christ. If you take CHRIST out of CHRISTmas, you just have “mas.” “Mas” in Spanish means MORE. I want more stuff, more junk, more food, more bills, more toys, more games, more cars, more clothes, more, more, more, more!
Christmas is also frantic, cold, nerve-racking, impersonal, manipulative, expensive consumerism and greed. The world gets far crazier and meaner around Christmas shopping season than it does around any other time of the year. It is just insane! How often have we heard our soft, kind, cheery voices say “God bless you and Merry Christmas?” But just 30 seconds or so later, we are screaming any combination of the following: “GIVE ME THAT, ITS MINE”…”SHE TOOK MY PARKING SPACE”…”YOU PAID HOW MUCH”…”WHO DOES HE/SHE THINK HE/SHE IS”…”YOU DO THAT ONE MORE TIME AND I’LL”…”DO WE HAVE TO GO OVER THERE AGAIN THIS YEAR”…”I CAN’T STAND THEM”…”I HATE MY FAMILY”…”YOU DON’T HAVE TO TAKE THAT” and the list goes on and on and on. How absolutely, positively hypocritical is that? It seems that consumerism, greed, pain, sorrow and the memory of a lifetime of wrongdoings rear their heads this time of year and causes us to act like caged, crazed animals at times. Where did love, joy, peace and blessing go? It is still there, but perhaps its less frequent and much more hidden than our rants are.
Christmas is also nostalgic and spiritual. I cannot tell you how many times I have experienced a “Hallmark Moment” in my life, as if looking in on a living, breathing Norman Rockwell painting. When I’m experiencing that, it is as though I am afraid to breathe (for fear of destroying the moment). Those moments vanish as suddenly as they arrive, but their memories never die! Also, it is in those quiet times of solitude that I connect more with God and the real “reason for the season.”
Christmas is also peaceful and love-soaked. Oftentimes, immediately after those Hallmark/Rockwell moments, there is such peace and love saturating everything and everyone in my life that it becomes so obvious to me that 99 percent of my life is pure vanity. There is nothing more important than loving God and those that He has given us to share our lives with. It is as if blinders fall from my eyes and I begin to see how those things I believed to be up, were actually down. What was black is actually white and what I was quite sure was good, is actually bad. All the wasted effort, time and offense simply embarrass me.
But Christmas is also brutally painful and sorrowful. This is especially true, as we get older and after divorce. Nothing is more painful to me than to realize that there are more loved ones waiting in heaven for me than sharing my life here on Earth. If I allow myself to have a pity party, it’s going to be a bad day. But, if I allow myself to step into my memories and relish all the wonderful times and experiences with those people, it’s like doing them all over again. That is not to say that it’s not still painful. Nothing is more painful for a daddy than to not have his children around. The greatest pain I have ever experienced has been that of missing my daughters, especially around Christmas. But nothing has warmed my heart more than remembering the moments that I did have with them.
So, Christmas is definitely life, compacted, pressed down, concentrated and amplified! Christmas truly gives a voice and stage to what you have inside you. When a water balloon is squeezed enough, what is on the inside will come bursting out. So it is with us. When life, compacted, pressed down, concentrated and amplified squeezes us (Christmas) what is inside of us will eventually come out. It is our job to not fake it, but to be real about what is in our hearts. Do we love one another? Do we appreciate what we have? Do we allow ourselves to slow down, walk in peace and live a life of joy OR do we just act like crazed, caged animals trampling each other for “mas”, “mas”, “MORE”, MORE?