A favorite holiday movie is that 2000 classic,
“How the Grinch stole Christmas.” It isn’t that the Grinch is
supposed to characterize the typical citizen, but at times we
resemble the Grinch when we are ill-tempered, when we get annoyed
easily, when we resent other people for one reason or another, and
when we are totally zapped by the rigors of ordinary life until we
are reduced to reclusive, irritable people devoid of joy. It can
happen to anyone!
It’s painful to watch the Grinch because we connect with his pain.
And then the magic scene comes on the screen when the Grinch’s heart
grew three sizes because he observed the joyous spirit of little
Cindy Lou Who, who sang a song of joy even though all the tinsel,
trees, presents and lights had been stolen away. The holiday spirit
was on the inside, not just the outside. And the lonely, miserly,
pathetic Grinch was transformed into a joyful celebrant who gave out
of kindness rather than stealing out of jealousy.
Thanksgiving Day is the kickoff holiday (not meant to be a football
pun), the one which causes us to reflect on the blessings of the
year gone past, and join with family to celebrate each other. We
join together in warmth around a table laden with sumptuous foods
and desserts, putting down our cell phones and tablets to join in
conversation with friends and family, strengthening bonds and
sharing life. In this we rejoice because of the relationships we
have and reflect that we are still together. And we give thanks to
God because of how loving He is, and how He has remembered even us.
About thirty days later comes Christmas Eve, a hallowed night when
we remember that God so loved the whole world that He sent His only
Son. Jesus came into the world as a baby, as one of us. His first
home was very humble: a mere stable, his bed a hay-filled manger.
Surrounded by the animals and his parents, the shepherds came in
from the fields where they lay keeping their flocks, and in the
company of the angels were in awe of the miracle of the Messiah.
In our homes we surround ourselves with the magic of
the season: Christmas movies, Christmas music, twinkling
decorations, and presents under the tree. It’s a time for warmth and
closeness, for home and family. The presents symbolize our love for
one another, and are reminiscent of the gifts the wise men brought
to baby Jesus. We read the Christmas story together once again and
are entranced by how God included all of us in His blessing. And we
too are transformed by the grace and the kindness of this season.
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Six days after Christmas, we once again have the opportunity to
celebrate with one another on the day called “New Year’s.” The theme
of New Year’s Day is renewal: it is a time to look back and look
ahead. It is a celebration of relationship. And the value of
relationship is underlined by our desire to forgive and start over
without emotional debt. It is a time of good cheer and high spirits
to begin a new year.
The Whos of Whoville sang a song, the first words of which are
beyond translation, but the second line says, “Welcome, Christmas,
come this way.” With those words they ushered in the joy and the
cheer of the holiday, as we too welcome in this season of home and
May the blessings and joy of this season be upon you!