Be an angel this season
  • Let the spirit of Christmas linger through you
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    Soul Rythem

    Getting the presents we give

    The line of traffic snaked around the mall at an irritatingly slow pace. Too many people had decided to do the same thing, at the same time. After two days of being snowbound and four days before Christmas, folks were eager to get into the stores and find presents for their family and friends. But most parking spaces were still covered in snow.

    My daughter and I joined the holiday procession to do shopping for a friend who could not get out. The grinding delay in getting close enough to the mall for my daughter to get out and walk  the rest of the way while I looked for a parking spot prompted her to blurt out, “Who commericialized Christmas anyway?’ 

    It’s a good question. The answer is many of us did. Those of us who love Christmas love getting presents for those we care about, even if it is something that the person may not want or need. To do that, we shop, even when we hate it (I understand that some people actually enjoy shopping, especially at Christmas). In some way, perhaps, we use the commercial part of the holiday to bring to life our interpretation of the spirit of  Christmas. In recent years, I have tried to alter my buying for the sake of  just having a gift to give. I have made some gifts and have donated charity items on behalf of friends. There is something  special about giving this time of year, especially when we give a bit of our hearts.


    More than two decades ago, Fr. Andrew Greeley, an author and priest, offered an interesting view of the stress of this season of shopping, saying:

    “It might be easy to run away to a monastery, away from the commercialization, the hectic hustle, the demanding family responsibilities of Christmas-time. Then we would have a holy Christmas. But we would forget the lesson of the Incarnation, of the enfleshing of God—the lesson that we who are followers of Jesus do not run from the secular; rather we try to transform it. It is our mission to make holy the secular aspects of Christmas just as the early Christians baptized the Christmas tree. And we do this by being holy people—kind, patient, generous, loving, laughing people—no matter how maddening is the Christmas rush …”

    In thinking about gift giving, I also found this poem by Howard Thurman, an African American philosopher, preacher and educator who was hailed as one of the great preachers of the 20th century, worth posting here. Thurman, who died at 81 in 1981, often sent a copy of this poem in a greeting card. What a wonderful gift to us all.     

     I place these gifts on my altar this Christmas;

                Gifts that are mine, as the years are mine:

    The quiet hopes that flood the earnest cargo of my dreams:

                The best of all good things for those I love,

                A fresh new trust for all whose faith is dim,

    The love of life, God’s precious gift in reach of all:

                Seeing in each day the seeds of the morrow,

                Finding in each struggle the strength of renewal,

                Seeking in each person the face of my Brother.

    I place these gifts on my altar this Christmas;

    Gifts that are mine, as the years are mine.



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