Christmas isn’t perfect, but neither are we
Column by Jim Bishop
I’m thinking of you today because Christmas is near, and I wish for you that often elusive but sorely needed gift of happiness. And as we stand poised on the cusp of a new year, I will continue to wish you happiness as we gravitate ever so surely into 2008.
I may not be able to say this every day – although I am fortunate to have this communications outlet for transporting good thoughts and wishes your way. Whenever joy or success comes to you, it will gladden my heart.
This sentiment may sound like I’m getting Santa-mental over you, but it is offered in all sincerity at this singular time of year.
Amid the din, hustle and glitz that can occupy too much of the Christmas season, may you experience joy, hope and contentment – three gifts of the Magi still sorely needed these many centuries later – in those “gentle moments” that often spring forth unexpectedly:
* A seasonal song you haven’t heard since childhood.
* A good joke, conversation, story, movie or book.
* A word of affirmation from a friend, co-worker or family member.
* A cardinal perched on a barren tree branch.
* A trip to the local hospital – just to donate a pint of blood.
* A Salvation Army bell pealing on a downtown street.
* A child’s smile flashed across the aisle at the Christmas candlelight service.
* A card or e-mail greeting from someone you’ve lost touch with.
* A newspaper or magazine article that perks you up.
* A bed of ornamental cabbage flaunting their vibrant colors long after other plants have succumbed to winter’s frosty grip.
* A loan agreement or invoice marked “paid in full”.
* A full moon shining on new fallen snow.
* A scripture passage or devotional meditation that intersects your daily walk.
* A work environment where colleagues do what they say they will do and spur each other to do their best.
* A time of reflection on satisfactions and achievements from this past year, acknowledging the miscalculations and blunders, while devoting time to setting priorities for the year ahead.
* A prayer for peace in a fearful, confused and divided nation and world.
Is there such a thing as having a perfect Christmas? I doubt that is attainable any more than having a perfect life. Writer Allyson Jones has said, “If I would wish for my life to be perfect, it would be tempting but I would decline, for life would no longer teach me anything.”
Christmas, then, becomes what we make it – either a special span of loving and giving or a bleak stretch of despondency and gloom; a time of opening ourselves to pressing needs close at hand or turning a deaf ear. a renewed appreciation for our daily blessings or a vain struggle after empty materialism.
In this regard, American poet, essayist and dramatist James Russell Lowell declared, “The gift without the giver is bare. who gives himself with his alms feeds three – himself, his hungering neighbor and me.”
We can experience the joy, wonder and awe of this magnificent season all year ’round if we act on the belief that Christmas is not “out there”. it is “in here.”
May the essence of Christmas for us all be found in small joys, surprises, friendships and the timeless message of Immanuel, God With Us.
Sounds nearly perfect to me. Merry Christmas!
Speaking of sounds: Do you hear what I hear … More rare air fare emanates from Jim Bishop’s bag of musical memories – it’s “A Christmas Potpourri,” featuring an hour of holiday tunes that you’ll likely not otherwise hear on the radio, 6 p.m. Christmas Eve on News Radio 550, WSVA and at 9 p.m. Christmas Eve on WEMC, 91.7 FM (www.wemcradio.org).
Jim Bishop is a regular contributor to The Augusta Free Press.