Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Wishing a Christmas State of Mind Could Last All Year

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.

    In 1914, in the midst of battle in WWI,  Pvt. Albert Moren of Second Queens Regiment recalled of Christmas Eve near the French Village of La Chapelle d'Armentieres a truce. He wrote in his journal, "It was a beautiful moonlit night, frost in the ground, white almost everywhere.There was a lot of commotion in the German trenches, and lights. Then they sang, "Silent Night", "Stille Nacht" ' It was recalled by many there during this night, that the opposing forces would take turns singing Christmas carols. Then all sang together, two or more nations singing one tune in the middle of a war. Men shouted, "No shooting", so they didn't shoot. They simply sang. They came out of their trenches and shook hands. They smiled and exchanged pleasantries. Some played football, they buried their dead, they shared cigarettes. They took time out from the war, to feel Christmas and to show humanity for just a moment. They shared a Christmas state of mind. They experienced peace for just a little while and showed each other that even though they had an unpleasant job to do they still had Christmas and goodwill in their hearts. Amidst the chaos, uncomfortableness, filth, cold, and fear they found the peace that only Christmas can bring. (adapted from www.nytimes.com/2005/12/25)
    Christmas is odd like that, it's not really just a holiday, it's not really just the celebration of the birth of the baby Jesus, it's not even the exchanging of gifts, or a decorated tree, or a stocking hung by the chimney with care, it's so much more than all of these things. Of course, Christmas began with the birth of the baby Jesus from the Virgin Mary, but throughout the ages, the love and peace of that very first Christmas has grown. It's kind of like the Grinch's heart, in Dr. Seuss's book, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas when the Grinch's heart grows. Christmas has become a feeling, a state of mind. Christmas is felt in the heart.
   On the days leading up to Christmas, I think of so many people. Some live in mansions while others live in the streets. Holiday traditions are as varied as the people themselves. Gifts can be grand or as small as a gesture. I know children, many of whom come from impoverished homes. They are not sad at Christmas time. Most of them are not even hoping for gifts for themselves. Yes, of course they would like gifts, candy, and good food, but mostly they want to give. Mostly they have goodwill in their hearts and want so desperately to share this with others. They love making cards and giving them to others including strangers . They hope that their small act of love can bring joy to someone else. This small act of kindness returns the act of kindness to themselves because in turn they feel good knowing that they made someone else feel good.

     This is what Christmas is about. It's about feeling peace within your heart, and deep down gratitude, knowing that somewhere; anywhere, others are feeling that same peace and comfort that you are feeling, the real spirit of Christmas.  So, this Christmas, just like that historic one in the trenches of WWI, may you have a Silent Night, filled with a Christmas state of mind. Joyous Holidays.