The spirit, the message

FI-EditorialChristmas is the transcendent holiday of our culture. It is a Christian holiday, reflecting the nation’s history as a colony and refuge for Europeans. But its appeal and the trappings of its celebration reach beyond the holiday’s sacred meaning for Christians and it has become something — not greater — but broader, more encompassing.

The symbols are everywhere. Its celebration seems at times to have been appropriated entirely by commercial interests and pop culture foolishness, leading to concerns that its true meaning is lost.

Do not fear.

The message  — the meaning — is alive and shines for all to hear. Peace on earth. Goodwill to all. Caring for, and sharing with, those who seem the least. Forgiveness. Sure, people have moments when they don’t live up to it. But who does not know that this — and not buying stuff — is the message, the meaning? And who that hears does not know that this is goodness itself, simple and pure?

All the tinsel and canned music in the world, all the mall Santas and TV specials, cannot diminish the power of Christmas and its story. The  power of love, the devotion and the hope for a better world.

And our pervasive celebrations of the holiday — the music, the decorations indoors and out, the parties, the bell-ringing, card-sending, gift-giving, the charity — change our streets, our communities, the way we live our lives each December.

It’s an assertion, a belief in the Christmas story’s promise — that the world, so often disappointing, unjust, painful, or simply mundane — holds the seeds of something finer, better, more pure. That this world can be transformed, reborn as it should be.

That is the magic of Christmas, echoed and asserted each December by all those yards overfilled with colored lights, all the fake white beards, every tired shopper sporting an incongruous red hat

The message is not lost amid the music and glittering lights. The story and its promise are too powerful.

The real Christmas lives.

And it always will.

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