The gift of Jesus is what Christians celebrate at Christmas, but all too often, they too put the god of consumerism first. I don’t mean to criticize; it’s a cultural thing, and an economic necessity in our system of consumptive wealth-creation. It’s also so often a missed opportunity.
The Christmas story is an endearing tale, filled with subtle beautiful meaning, no matter your faith, or depth of belief. What a shame it is lost in the blur of shopping and wrapping, of Santas dropped from airplanes or delivered by fire trucks and worshiped by all.
Take time to imagine the journey of the Wise Men from the East, following a star, “…westward leading, still proceeding…” I’ve had the good fortune to pilot a sailboat hundreds of miles from land. After sunset, it can be tiring frustrating work to keep a compass heading. But when the ink black heavens are ablaze with stars, it becomes pure joy: look through the rigging, find a guide star, follow it and you will hold a true course. Should clouds interfere, you search for another guide star to hold your bearing.
Their quest to find the meaning of the star was an arduous one. High mountains with bandits and desolate deserts threatened the Wise Men’s lives, wore down their resolve, but they persevered. What sustained them? Their guide star always appeared and gave their journey meaning.
Was theirs a journey to reclaim lost innocence, to find purpose, find hope? I’m quite sure it ended with an expression of thanksgiving that comes at the end of any difficult journey. Claire and I know about such quests, athough our journeys are much easier, and will be soon forgotten. Did they find what they sought in the Child? We will never know for sure, but we know they found joy in the journey itself.
The Christmas story bears many a lesson worth considering, and it is a far more satisfying pursuit than buying one more, soon to be forgotten trinket. The lesson of greed is taught one hundred times more often over this season than the lesson taught by the Biblical story of Christmas.
I am not a believer in the inerrancy of the Bible, but I know a good story when I read one, I know a story with a message of truth behind it. It deserves to be shared and thought about. If you’d prefer a more secular seasonal story, How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a wonderfully simple tale of great value. The Grinch took away their toys and gifts, yet the people of Whoville were still joyous, and celebrated their blessings together.
This Christmas Eve, Claire and I are toting up our blessings in our wonderful little home: We are warm, and dry, we have each other, a large community of friends, and three stuffed pandas. We will go to bed well fed, anticipate a wonderful breakfast, and a full day of stimulating activity. We have a simple healthy life, and plans for the future. We don’t have a decorated tree or brightly wrapped packages. Our presents are our blessings, wrapped in the joy of deeply felt thanksgiving.
So have a merry Christmas, a happy Hanukah, Kwanzaa, or Saturnalia… Whatever your seasonal story might be, take time to savor it, and be thankful.
This article first appeared on www.JustOneOpinion.com in December 2008. It was a popular post on Just One Opinion, and we thought regular readers to the New Bohemians Website would enjoy reading it, even though it’s outdated. You can always refer back to it in December 2009!