December 24, 2013

On Christmas Spirit

Christmas feels a little schizophrenic this year. Even as the elves stay busy filling up Santa's sleigh, a well-paid League of Scrooges has left Washington without reauthorizing unemployment benefits for some one million Americans in need of help. In Windsor, Connecticut tonight, a six million Christmas light display will shine almost as bright as the Star of Bethlehem. John Chakalos, the man behind the festive display, has been found inside his home, dead from a gunshot wound. The news offers up a constant parade of naughty and nice, charitable acts and Grinch-ly facts. Is it any wonder many people feel they are traveling on the Bi-Polar Express?

My wife Heather and I have been counting our blessings. 2013 has been a long and challenging year, but we have kept our heads above water, and our spirits high. Indomitable is the word, I think. We even have managed to conjure up some genuine Christmas Spirit. Love lives in our home. We are lucky.

Christmas Spirit, you may know, is one of the last remaining vestiges of magic left in the world. It's the warm glow that Black Friday bargains or doctored eggnog cannot quite provide. It's one of the few things children have a monopoly on. Adults feel it too, but they may have difficulty sustaining it.

You might feel it when you toss your change into a shivering bell ringer's kettle. It might strike when you hear Mel Torme's gentle tenor tones, like the voice of an old friend, seeping out of your car radio speakers. It might even come from exchanging a smile with a pedestrian walking in front of your car in an overcrowded parking lot. You will surely experience it if you tuck a jittery child into bed on Christmas Eve.

If Christmas Spirit pounces on you this year, I implore you to seal the exits in your soul. At first, the feelings of pure joy and humility may be overwhelming, like a wild tiger furiously pacing back and forth inside a cage. Wrestle with it, tame it, and keep it as a pet. Take it for long walks in your neighborhood and let your neighbors stoop down to pat it's head for good luck. Feed it and breed it, and give a total stranger the pick of the litter.

If you don't have Christmas Spirit this year, do not despair. Nothing is hopeless, not all change is bad, and not all years are the same. If having Christmas Spirit was easy, everyone would have some, every day, all around the world.

You might have read or been told that, considering the infinite nature of the cosmos, you are as small and insignificant as a grain of sand on the beach. I submit to you that every grain of sand matters. If just one tiny grain of sand, on any of the world's great beaches, were to suddenly blink out of existence, that could very well create an anomaly that might undo all of Creation. You are a part of everything. Your very existence has meaning.

To every person in the world, young and old, fat and skinny, homely and beautiful, virtuous and even despicable, I wish you joy, good fortune,  laughter and all the Christmas Spirit you can handle.

Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.

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