Christmas From The Heart

by Mike Giffin

Christmas has come! Holiday shopping has been completed and gifts have been exchanged. Now is the time when some variation of the question that is always asked; “what did you get for Christmas?” We then recite a list of gifts we received - clothes, computers, video games, jewelry, gift cards, etc. These days the list is long and the better the gifts, the better the Christmas we have had, right? And by all accounts, many Americans had a very good Christmas – gift-wise. Holiday spending is up 3.8% over last year as we spent almost 500 billion dollars on retail sales this year.. .Merry Christmas indeed!

You may detect a hint of sarcasm in my musings. Christmas has become so commercial that the true meaning of the holiday and the real Christmas spirit are being obscured.

Each year Julie and I watch the movie “Scrooge,” the 1951 adaptation of Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol”. The story is set in the early 1800s in London. As I watched the movie this year, it really struck me how it was not the gifts that made the Christmas holiday so special to the characters in the story. The family spent time together – having a family meal, drinking a cup of punch, eating pudding, singing songs, dancing, playing word games. But just doing these things was not what brought joy and happiness, it was the love that the family shared.

The movie emphasizes that the true spirit of Christmas lies in loving and giving – as God gave His son because he loves us. If we focused less on buying presents that don’t bring true happiness and, instead, shared our love with family, friends and those in need – either directly or through food banks for the poor, an extra Angel Tree child, church ministries, the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, Meals on Wheels, etc., what kind of positive difference would that make in the lives of others – and in our own?

One of my favorite Christmas stories, that I read in a Robert Strand book, was about a nine year old second grader who was thought to be a little slow. He played the part of the innkeeper in the Christmas pageant.

When he told Joseph that the Inn was filled, Joseph pointed out that Mary was heavy with child and needed a place to rest.

The innkeeper looked at Mary and there was a long pause, whereupon the prompter whispered “No Begone!”. The innkeeper repeated “No Begone!”.

Joseph put his arm around Mary and they sadly walked away. The innkeeper’s eyes filled with tears and he said “Don’t go Joseph, you can have my room”.

This demonstration of love resulted in a Christmas that the innkeeper would never forget, his family would never forget and the audience would never forget.