Imagine living in a long ago time when nighttime covered the land in a dark shroud, and there was no smog or street lights to dim the bright stars overhead. Imagine the awe of looking at those stars, and wondering what they were, and why they belonged to the darkness of night. Then imagine the wonder of a special star–the star that led to a special place, and a special babe. A babe that would grow up and bring a message of hope and joy.
The bright specks in the nighttime sky are no longer mysterious but have become even more awesome. Centuries of changes have made the world a different place from that of long ago, but the birth of that baby is still a time of celebration. Customs from other celebrations brought feasting, the giving of gifts, and the use of evergreens for decorations, into long ago Christmas festivities. Later, SantaClaus became a big part of the celebrations. All of these are now a traditional part of the season. And amidst all this, that message of hope and joy live on.Christmas has a special feeling of excitement and anticipation. Reverent church services honor the awesome event we will be celebrating. Social events, helping Santa with his gifting, and preparing for visits with friends and relatives, are all part of a four-week Christmas season. Not a Holiday Season but a Christmas Season.
Elaborate decorations add to the excitement. Three important holidays are crowded into less than six weeks. From Thanksgiving to Christmas Day there are four weeks of glitter and bright lights, of silver and gold ornaments and bright poinsettias– all transforming the stores into magical places. Houses ablaze with color, and trees blooming with twinkling lights, turn each night into a time of beauty. It is part of a festive period, but each of this cluster of holidays celebrates a special event and should not be merged into a mere season. Less we forget, Christmas is Christmas.
We are only a few days away from Christmas Day, the day that celebrates the event that began on a starry night centuries ago. It was once such a raucous celebration that it was banned. Later it became a solemn candlelit Christ's Mass that evolved into our present-day Christmas. Although Christmas is not special to everyone–there are other beliefs and other special days which are celebrated by those to whom each is special–it should not lose its identity and be demoted to merely being a part of a Holiday Season. Christmas is a special day-we must keep it that way.
Beautiful lighting is this century's contribution to Christmas traditions.
There are street parades,
water parades, and yards
sparkling with colorful lights.
Its a season when chaos reigns in shipping centers as shoppers frantically hunt for gifts. Santa is visited by hoards of the young–and a few of the not so young. Criminals prey on the unwary. The ringing bells give hope to those who are unfortunate.
When Christmas Eve arrives put it all aside. If it's a clear night, go outside and look up at the twinkling stars overhead. Don't be surprised if they look brighter and closer than those of other nights. Let all the trappings of the holiday season melt away. Gaze at those stars and image that long ago time when one shone brighter than all the rest, and guided the way to the newborn babe who came into the world to deliver a message of love and hope. That is the reason we celebrate this day.
Merry Christmas to all.