Celebrate and Share Your Many Holiday Blessings
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Celebrate and Share Your Many Holiday Blessings
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The holiday season has a way of creating a special warmth in our hearts, even as the weather chills our bones.
Christmas brings us together to share food, stories, gifts and love – not just with our families but with friends, fellow worshippers and those in our communities who are less fortunate.
For many families, this is the only time of the year that grown children will be reunited with their parents, that youngsters will spend time with grandparents, that brothers and sisters will take time out of their busy schedules to share a dinner table and count their blessings.
As we gather with friends and family this holiday season to celebrate the spirit of giving, all of us should pause and reflect upon the true meaning of Christmas.
The most obvious meaning of Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It is a time for many to worship with their families, thanking God for the many blessings bestowed during the year. The spirit of Christmas, though, has come to symbolize much more than its traditional celebration.
Classic holiday movies are a major part of the season for many families, providing not just entertainment, but inspiration as well. Who can forget the conclusion of Charles Shultz’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, when Linus cuts through the commercialism of the holiday and reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas.
Or how young Natalie Wood experiences the miracle on 34th street, or when Jimmy Stewart discovers that it is really a wonderful life, despite the challenges he faces. Even Ebenezer Scrooge and the Grinch eventually catch the holiday spirit and share it with others.
In addition to the rituals and ceremonies, the parties, carolers, and excited children waiting for the arrival of Santa Claus, Christmas is a time for families to get together and celebrate their blessings. Perhaps the most personal meaning of Christmas for families comes from gathering together to celebrate their health and wellbeing.
Some families remember their loved ones, while others watch newborn relatives experience Christmas for the first time. For some families, Christmas is the only time of year the entire family is able to spend together. Regardless of how big or small one’s family size, Christmas truly is a time to cherish family and togetherness.
Christmas is also a time to remember the less fortunate in our community, a perfect opportunity for parents to instill a spirit of giving in their children. An excellent family experience each year is volunteering at a local homeless shelter serving Christmas dinner to the needy, or taking old coats and winter clothes to a rescue mission to help the disadvantaged combat the harsh winter ahead.
Donating toys to the various Toys for Tots program is an exceptional way to teach children about compassion in a way they can understand, brightening the holidays of less fortunate children their age.
In the wake of our ongoing war on terrorism, Christmas has also become a time to remember the brave young men and women who are so honorably defending our security, and ideals of freedom and democracy. Whether fighting the terrorist menace in Afghanistan and Iraq or protecting our well being in other places around the globe, our thoughts and prayers this holiday season are with our defenders of freedom and their families. We are all praying for the end of armed hostilities and a long lasting peace.
Let us do everything we can to support the families our soldiers left behind, for this truly is the best way to thank them for the gift of freedom they have given us.
Former President Ronald Reagan perhaps best summed up what the spirit of Christmas should mean to Americans today. In his 1982 Christmas radio address to the nation, President Reagan noted that "in spite of everything, we Americans are still uniquely blessed, not only with the rich bounty of our land but by a bounty of the spirit—a kind of year-round Christmas spirit that makes our country a beacon of hope in a troubled world and that makes this Christmas and every Christmas even more special for all of us who number among our gifts the birthright of being an American."
I can think of no more beautiful sentiment to keep in our hearts as we celebrate Christmas this year.
God Bless and Merry Christmas.