Peace on earth; Goodwill to all. Joy to the world! Those are but samples of the spirit the feelings that Christmas in-spires. "By their fruits ye shall know them." Christmas is one of the most celebrated holidays in the world, to the point where it is not just a holiday, but a holiday season. It has taken on many forms of celebration from various cultures that have infused their celebratory ways as they converted to its celebration. The important thing is not so much the form our recognition takes, or how beautiful the tree is, but rather how it affects our spirit, what it does to our own attitudes, how we feel within our individual lives. Today it has become as much of a commercial season as a holy one. Leave it to the merchants of whatever ilk to make the most of an opportunity.
Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It has become such a dominating season that it has raised the ire of many who have excluded themselves from seeing it as a cause to celebrate. We offer them solace, and invite them to note that the holiday, and its celebration, carries with it an aura ... an uplifting spirit that encompasses the wishes of all people toward good will, whether they believe in Christianity or not. Regarding the first few phrases of this article: Peace on earth, Goodwill to all, Joy to the world, does any normal person disagree with those sentiments?
There may be those who would like to see us forget Christmas, but they would not wish for the world to abolish wishes for peace, goodwill, or joy, which are the true essence of that which fills our hearts at Christmas, and embodies the hope of mankind. Who is against joy to the world? Who is against peace on earth, or good will toward everyone? No matter who or what we are, if we are in our right minds, we share in these sentiments. May they thrive in the world.
The spirit of Christmas, the hope and goodwill it offers, the optimism it gives to the heart, cannot be destroyed without destroying mankind itself, because the spirit of Christmas embodies the hope of all mankind. The world has its share of cruelty and injustice. We need a holiday of hope, forgiveness and love. We are ever so slowly growing in our appreciation of one another. The spirit of Christmas is a spirit of faith and hope in the hearts of men and women that there is purpose in life, which can culminate in more than a bottomless abyss of eternal nothingness.
"That's how it looks to earth-bound eyes
That cannot know or realize
That life is more than just a flash
Of hunger, love and balderdash."
Without hope mankind has no reason to care about anything, or to govern himself with more respect to his fellows. The Christmas spirit erases the beast from the breast of mankind. We somehow instinctively care about our fellow man. We enjoy their company. We depend on their various skills. The spirit of Christmas gives us the hope that our evolution will, as always in the past, move us into former unknown realms of understanding and achievement, which will be to our continuing advantage.
Life is a most wonderful, awe inspiring thing that we really know little about. While it needs food, and water, it also dearly depends on the nourishment of the spirit of life, with love, and understanding to maintain itself. The news reports give us daily reminders of the results of the absence of compassion. Perhaps the uplifting spirit of Christmas will serve as a recurring guidepost, until we have grown to live it 24/7/365. Then we won't need the ornately decorated evergreen to remind us that life can be beautiful, but until that day comes, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a most delightful holiday season. May God bless America.
Richard Westlund is a Collins resident.