The Christmas SpiritNov 26, 2022
The Christmas Spirit
Christmas isn’t a season. It’s a feeling -Edna Ferber
What is the Christmas Spirit? Something we should all ask ourselves this time of year. It is only something you can answer for yourself because it is different for everyone. Since everyone has different memories and different experiences from past Christmas’s, each person’s perception of Christmas is as unique as a snowflake or a fingerprint. So, the Christmas Spirit for you is only something you can know, only something you can feel, and only something you can share with others.
Most minds, when asked this question, go down one of two roads. You contemplate Christ, the namesake of the holiday, or you think of the goodness that comes out of people during this time. The spirit of Christmas seems to be when most people temporarily let go of past hurts, grudges, and feuds and lead with their hearts. They attempt to be the most unconditionally loving they can be, at least for a little while. Christmas reminds us all of what’s possible in the hearts of humanity.
Often Christmas centers around giving and generosity. From toy drives to ringing bells attached to people with buckets, we all attempt to be more generous than normal during Christmas. While generosity is literally active gratitude for all you have been given throughout the year, is the Christmas spirit only generosity, or is it something more?
It is the time of year we let everyone in from the cold for a little while. Let people in to warmed by the fire of kinship. We remind each other of the love that is possible to share with one another when we are not too busy making everything else a priority. We let go of the striving for more money and have it take a back seat to splurge on loved ones. We go out of our way to light up someone we care about or remind a stranger that love will never leave this Earth.
This is the time of year when no one would bat an eyelash at you for giving a freezing person the coat off your back. It wouldn’t be abnormal to stop and talk to a coworker you otherwise haven’t had the time or interest in getting to know. It couldn’t be strange to call an old friend or relative out of the blue to catch up. The Christmas spirit doesn’t make humans unconditionally loving one another strange; it makes it normal. At least we have this beautiful example of what is possible once a year. I’m grateful, aren’t you?
No matter where you land on Christ, you must admit that he was something special. He was a champion of unconditional love until his last breath. He literally forgave the people torturing him to death while it was happening. That is a miracle in it of itself, regardless of anything else he is known for doing.
I am in no way attempting to shift your view of Christ or his story from wherever you are now. I am simply examining how his story fits into the puzzle of the Christmas spirit. When you see what the man stood for, it is easy to see how much of his life is woven into this holiday.
From the moment he became enlightened until they put him to death three years later, Christ wandered the Earth with his friends spreading peace, joy, and unconditional love for yourself and for your fellow man. It is no wonder why so many people express their Christmas spirit by acting more Christ-like themselves. Not just going to church more in December or anything that mundane, but rather turning the other cheek and overlooking past “wrongs” to see the other person’s point of view.
How many of us are going to be around family and friends you normally wouldn’t be around this holiday? And how many of you are going to look past those people’s despicable behavior, off-color comments, or drunken rants from previous encounters just to remind them that you love them? How many of you are going to give them the cold shoulder and ignore people you really love over the holidays just for some petty disagreement or miscommunication?
It is not to say that the Christmas spirit means to be Christ-like or that you need to try and be. But rather that you don’t let petty squabbles and issues that don’t matter in the long run stop you from enjoying a good friend’s company. That you look at the overall big picture and ask yourself, “If the roles were reversed, how would I want to be treated this holiday?” It is never a good idea to compare yourself to anyone else, especially Christ. The idea is to let the spirit of the holiday inspire you to stop practicing conditional love. No one needs your judgment of them this holiday, trust me.
The best gift you can give anyone is unconditional love with clear boundaries. Unconditional love means you will never stop loving, but boundaries mean that no one is allowed to bully, manipulate, or otherwise harm you in any way, intentionally or not. Everyone wants your unconditional love. However, when you combine it with clear boundaries, it means you can love yourself first and everyone else second. That is the only way to keep your sanity this Christmas.
Christ’s message was clear and still holds true to this day. Love your fellow man as family, and everything else will take care of itself. It is nice to see that message received at least once a year. I believe in a world where it could be that way year-round. If we can understand how the Christmas spirit is activated within us, shouldn’t we be able to turn it on at will, like all the time?
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in truth -Jesus Christ
Santa Clause has been on planet Earth for about 150-200 years, give or take where you pick up the story. While he draws inspiration from many different places, he gained popularity in the late 1800s and early 1900s from the marketing world, pushing consumerism onto the holiday.
I have no problem with people being generous or even spending more money than they have during Christmas. I do, however, have a problem with manipulation. Why lie to children about Santa Clause? Who does that help? Well, when Santa Clause can give you a lump of coal in your stocking for not being a good boy or good girl, that is manipulation, plain and simple. It is also conditional love at its finest.
Follow me down this rabbit hole for a second, will you? So, the parent buys toys for the child that the child wants but doesn’t take the credit but has to give the credit to Santa Clause to maintain the illusion. So instead of the child being grateful to the parent for getting them what they asked for or getting them something to let them know they are loved, the credit goes to Santa Clause. So because of the lie, you are unable to receive gratitude for giving. That is kind of an important part of generosity unless you are giving anonymously. But maybe you hold back and only give a few things from Santa Clause while the big items come from you to not cheapen your showing love threw gift giving.
Next, we have the child being lied to. Why? You obviously know that they are going to find out the truth at some point and be completely let down, right? Weren’t you? Or was it so far back you don’t remember the heartbreak? Also, you are introducing lying, manipulating, and conspiracy theories to the child. All things you don’t want them to turn around and do to you, right? But aren’t you teaching them that lying is okay, as long as it is for a good cause?
Why couldn’t Santa Clause be like Mickey Mouse or Superman? As in a fictional character that everyone knows is fictional, but kids still enjoy it anyway. Why the charade? Don’t kids love seeing Mickey at Disneyland or Superman on the big screen? Why go through the whole lie of putting out milk, cookies, and carrots? Is it all so you can make them behave and threaten their gifts if they don’t obey?
Why else would Santa Clause be making a list and checking it twice to see who is naughty or nice? The naughty and nice list is the reason Santa Clause is the patriarch of conditional love. In the real world, not the fantasy land where Santa Clause comes from, naughty kids are typically abused. They are not born that way. No child is born bad, evil, naughty, or wicked. They are taught that behavior by adults. No different than racism.
Now, get rid of the naughty and nice list to say that every child gets to be shown love on Christmas, no matter their behavior, and we now have an unconditionally loving patriarch to go along with Christ instead of rivaling him. Make no mistake, there is a rivalry. Unconditional love versus conditional love. One promotes labeling kids naughty or people evil and shunning them through ostracization, while the other promotes inclusion and treating others how you want to be treated.
To me, the Christmas spirit cannot include manipulation of children through the naughty and nice list. This is a time to put away judgment and love people, flaws and all. It is not the time to remind a child of how cold this world can be, in my opinion. It is a time to show everyone how loving this world can be, especially the children who are going to shape it one day.
How come everyone can see through the lie of Santa Clause by the time they are a teenager, but the conditionally loving false God of the Bible is worshiped until death? They are the exact same thing, white beard and everything -The Lucky One
What is the best present you ever remember getting for Christmas? Mine was time. I don’t remember the toy or the wrapping; I remember playing with my mother on the floor on Christmas morning. I remember time with the person I loved most at the time.
That is what everyone really wants anyway, your time. Your love. Your hugs. Your attention. You could totally hug a stranger and get away with it on Christmas. Maybe even get a hug back or a “thank you, I needed that.”
There is no wrong way to do Christmas, as long as you find the spirit within yourself. As long as you remember what it means to you and at least for just one day, be that spirit. Be that generous, unconditionally loving helper of all humanity. Can you do that for a day?
If you do it for a day, you might enjoy it. Maybe it will stretch to two or three. Who knows, you could be a different person by the new year. No need for a resolution. Start by asking yourself what the spirit of Christmas means to you. What feelings come up inside you when you bask in the warmth of past memories?
Never forget, there are a lot of lonely people on this holiday. They may be lonely inside even if they are surrounded by people. All they need is a heart-to-heart connection to remind them of the spirit of Christmas. Just one heartfelt interaction that is genuine is all it takes. And it doesn’t cost a thing but time and energy. Do you have the time and energy to make the world a little bit better this Christmas? Even if it is just for one lonely Soul. Can you give the gift of you?
The Christmas spirit is a feeling. If it is a feeling, then it shouldn’t be that difficult to trigger it inside of you, right? Can you trace back what kindles that spirit within you to see if you can spark it whenever you want to? When you are captivated by that spirit, can you evoke it from another by giving it to them? Whatever you decide to do this year, the Christmas spirit loves you unconditionally. Merry Christmas.
I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all year -Ebenezer Scrooge