Getting Them and Giving Them
When it comes to Christmas, one almost get’s overloaded on Inspiration. Christmas carols, symbols and holiday lights are all around. Snowmen pop up where there is no snow, usually in plastic of inflatable form. And I’ve yet to encounter a retail store without some version of a Christmas Teddy Bear. For me, having a Christmas tree is one of the big things. It needn’t be a big tree. But there is something about the smell and the lights and pretty decorations that says “Christmas”. It somehow reminds me of the beauty of a star filled sky and a winter landscape with snowy trees even if it’s 60 degrees outside and the tree is on a table in the house.
I love the challenge of coming up with holiday horses and teddy bear designs. And I love admiring the ones I see, special made from Breyer Animal Creations, The Trail of the Painted Ponies, Vermont teddy bears, artist teddy bears and all sorts of others. I can’t often afford to buy, but I can admire them nonetheless.
But the greatest challenge of the season comes from wondering how to give that gift of inspiration to others. The relatives with doom and gloom in their hearts due to bills threaten to dampen my own spirit. In fact, however many bills we have and however difficult it is with a new job and limited funds to pay them, we are well off. Some people have nothing but a cardboard box. Some people don’t even have their freedom or their health.
And I must say I do get mad at people who stomp on the spirit. Not the ones who are just feeling low and worried, mind you. It’s why I don’t like black Friday or shopping Christmas Eve. It has nothing to do with how I feel about sales, or the commercial apsects. It’s because instead of inspiring the spirit of giving, it inspires greed. People trample each other just to buy a toy. They rob each other. They block traffic intersections even though they can’t go anywhere and gridlock a whole neighborhood. No. To me that is not what Christmas is about. That takes a sacred holiday (and I mean sacred to most of us, even non Christians) about giving and turns it into a ‘who got the most gifts cheapest and fastest’ festival.
Now for me, I believe in the Christmas story. The whole miracle of God’s son coming down as a tiny baby and being born in a stable is wonderful. Maybe it appeals to me more because it was a stable. Animals are somehow more open and honest than people. I’ve sure never had one lie to me. So it doesn’t seem like a bad place to be born. I would think it would be a quiet place. It’s the theme of the undeserved, unexpected and easily taken for granted special gift. A gift that arrived unlooked for. t’s easy to overlook such things in our modern world. We are busier, noisier and needier than ever before. Face it. Back then they didn’t need cars, or computers. But the modern American economy wish crash flat if they all ceased to function, and a sizable chunk of the rest of the world would too. Of course, I doubt Mary and Joseph thought of it as peaceful to begin with. Traveling by donkey and finding noisy crowds, then realizing she was about to give birth probably seemed pretty chaotic to them. Imagine Joseph’s reaction when she said the baby was coming. I can imagine him holding the donkey’s rope and going “NOW?” in dismay, whilst looking frantically around for somewhere, anywhere, for her to have the child. He was probably silently pleading with the promised ‘Son of God’ in her womb to stay there for just awhile longer.
Others may just enjoy Christmas as a time of giving gifts and being with family. I believe in Santa Claus too. Look him up you’ll find there really was a Santa Claus. Legend often starts as a grain of truth. It’s often seen in cheesy holiday movies these days that the kid realizes the Santa in the suit at the mall isn’t the ‘real’ Santa. But I’m not so sure of that. He may not be the original Santa. But I think Santa Claus comes back to the purest most basic form of the Christmas story: a giver of gifts, which contrary to the naughty and nice idea may not even be deserved or asked for. If they hold a generous heart every mall Santa is Santa. And so is every Dad assembling a new bike at two AM. Every Mom is Santa or Mrs. Santa even if she’s a single mom juggling two jobs trying desperately to feed the kid, let alone give them a gift.
Now for me, money is kind of tight. New job, old bills and the usual woes. But I know there are many people far worse off and this is my prayer: That they should all be given that gift of the unexpected kindness this Christmas. An unexpected dinner from a friend, a bill paid they weren’t sure how to cover, the hug of true friendship and an unexpected bonus of a special toy or music or other inspirational gift.
And I will believe, I have to, both on Christmas and off that we have to have faith in more than just our own little selves. If I only had that, I’d be a wreck. How could I hope to pay these bills? To earn enough money? On my own, I couldn’t. Because it takes more than one person to support one person. It takes an employer to hire, customers who want whatever your offering, family and friends to support when your low or when the first two aren’t available. It takes agencies to help with bills, or job seeking. It takes doctors and nurses to help one stay healthy. Not a one of us really truly functions alone. And when you see someone homeless on the street, they may not have gotten there alone either. Are they really too lazy to work, or do they have health or mental issues? Do they have family? Would they take help if it was offered? Sometimes it only takes one act of kindness to make a difference. And to give that you have to have that Christmas faith that it will help, even if you can’t see the results in the short term or perhaps ever at all. Call it ‘Do unto others’ or even Karma, but in the end the kindness comes back in unexpected ways.
The most important thing about Christmas inspirations is, it has to hold for more than just a day. The power of giving an unexpected kindness is just as strong throughout the year. It has to be because the rest of the year there are no Christmas trees or bright holiday lights to remind us.