“Make Christmas Come Alive.” This message from Pro Flowers popped up on my screen about two weeks ago and has haunted me ever since. What exactly would it mean to make Christmas come alive? And which Christmas are we talking about? Would it mean the “jolly holly” Christmas of Burl Ives? Or would it be the Christmas – or at least the Christmas spirit – we sing and hear about in church? The problem is that when I’ve tried to write about the issue, despite all my thinking, the words just won’t come out right. It all seems too “preachy.” So please bear with me.
There is no way to escape the “jolly holly” Christmas. That Christmas is boisterous and flashy and tantalizes all the senses. It is very public. It boosts the American economy. We are surrounded on all sides by retailers who spend millions to entice us and encourage us to buy their products which are ever more expensive., too often unnecessary. To quote good old William Wordsworth, “The world is too much with us; late and soon, getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.”
On the other hand, that “other “ Christmas is more personal, too often quiet and private. The words from a carol say, “How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given,” and I would add, how silently it is celebrated. Oh sure, many carols tell the story of that first Christmas, and church services abound on Christmas Eve. But as moving as it is to hold an individual candle in a darkened sanctuary, when we extinguish that flame, too often we fail to take out into the world all that light represents. And there’s another big difference: the commercial Christmas comes to a climax on December 25th when we open all the gifts, and we can forget about it for another year. What if we could keep the spirit of that “other Christmas” alive throughout the year?
Of course we want the fun stuff, but maybe we could tone down the “Holly Jolly, and ramp up “O Holy Night.” To quote yet another commercial (Glade) “Light your light and let it shine.” Let it shine through acts of kindness big and small, through thankfulness and humility for all we have, through sharing that abundance.
© Dorothy C. Judd
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