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Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2008

I absolutely love this time of year. I love the snow. I love the smell fire smoke and Christmas trees. I love seeing family and old friends coming together. Putting a jigsaw puzzle together with my Grandmother. Showing my Dad how to check stocks online. Helping my Mom cook dinner. Watching football with my brother. I also love the sense of magic in the air, that mythical tale-spun magic that’s ingrained in all of our heads ever since we were little- even if we’re ages away from believing in Santa Claus. But more than anything else I love the feeling of Christmas spirit in the air.

But what is Christmas spirit? It’s not the ghost of Christmas past or even Christmas present. And it’s not the brandy in your eggnog. Christmas spirit is about thinking and caring for others, for no other reason than that auspicious day. And I love that. I love that there is a holiday centered around giving and thinking of others. 

One of my all-time favorite Christmas stories is that of the “Gift of the Magi”. Roughly it’s a tale of two lovers who are living in New York during the holiday season. The man has a priceless heirloom watch that’s his most prized possession, and the woman has a long beautiful head of hair that she treasures like her own child. They’re both down on their luck, and fairly poor. So when Christmas time comes along the man sells his watch in order to buy his wife a beautiful set of silver brushes. Meanwhile, on the other side of town the woman is cutting her hair in order to purchased the man a golden watch chain for his prized possession.

That is the Christmas spirit. It’s not how much money you spend on gifts, or that big bonus you receive. It’s a call to that friend you don’t talk to very often to let them know you love them, and that your life is richer for their presence even if you don’t talk much anymore. It’s helping a strangers by holding doors open, or helping carry their bags. It’s letting the single mother with her three children cut in front of you in a line. It’s that extra dollar you tip just because. It’s about thinking of others and being compassionate for compassion sake. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if we could one day stop calling this the Christmas spirit and call it the human spirit? I suppose one time out of the year is a good start.

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