Some time ago, I had an underlying negative attitude towards Christmas. Though I didn't vocalise it, I thought (deep down) that Christmas had lost it's soul and in its place was commercialism, consumerism, alcoholism and gluttony. In my view, Christmas had turned into an annual obligation that had little to do with the acknowledgement of a baby being born in Bethlehem some two thousand(ish) years ago. What was the point?
As I evolved into being more spiritual and less in line with 'a' religion (I do declare that I have a healthy respect for all religious teachings), I began to question whether it was appropriate to even celebrate Christmas. So for many years I was in limbo. That is, until the day I witnessed Fathia (a practicing Muslim) writing out Christmas Cards.
Fathia and I had done a business course together, where I'd learned that this amazingly strong and brazen woman had an enormous heart of gold. Seeing her scribe next to images of Santa Claus must have drawn a puzzled look on my face as she was quick to explain, "I am Muslim, we do not believe in Christmas. But my friends do, and I know this is a very special time for them. So I am writing these cards to wish them a happy Christmas because I know it is important to them".
Well, I was completely humbled. Wow. What a woman.
From that point on, I began to see Christmas differently. If Fathia knew how important Christmas was to her friends, then how could I be so blind? I stopped making Christmas wrong and everything about it negative. I started looking at what Christmas does mean and what it brings to those that celebrate it.
In a world that aims to make life effortless, Christmas is the one day of the year that calls for people to... well... make an effort. Whether it be organising, planning, shopping, wrapping, baking, making, cooking, cleaning, decorating, flying, sailing, driving, grooming, dressing, impressing, playing, thanking, giving or forgiving, it's a time where we do more for others and less for ourselves... and it's about making wishes come true (that's what the letters to Santa are about, which is similar to writing letters to the cosmos - apparently they share the same address - shhhhhhhh).
Christmas is essentially about family.
When most meals are spent in front of the telly and dinner with siblings happens but thrice a year, Christmas asks us to stop, organise our lives and make family our priority. Out of 365 days, this is the only day that asks this of us (unless of course you're from North America and Thanks Giving makes two), and yet we STILL grumble.
The spirit of Christmas lies in appreciation, gratitude and love. It really doesn't take much to ignite the spirit when all three are in play. If you're feeling a bit grumpy about tomorrow, take a refreshing new look at it and allow the spirit to brighten up your life. And if all else fails, remember Fathia - a generous woman with a heart of gold who, despite her own beliefs, realised the importance this day is to those she cares about. Bless her.
Until tomorrow, be sure to ignite your Christmas spirit and make the effort to have a very merry and loving Christmas.