Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Is...

Christmas Handkerchief Quilt 
Christmas in the secular world begins the day after we give thanks for all our blessings. At least that is how it was; now many retailers start the Christmas sales ON Thanksgiving. It is as if we are grateful one day, and then immediately decide we need more to be thankful for.

As a girl I saw commercials for charities showing poor children across the world, dirty and thin, flies settling on their faces. I would be filled with guilt. There I was with my Barbie doll and paper dolls, crayons and coloring books, the Golden Books on my shelf, and enough food that I was a 'chubby' size. And some child was wishing for a bowl of rice or the miracle of a well with clean water with which to wash her face. I believed I had too much.

Christmas Eve 
We buy gifts to show our love. We buy gifts because it makes us feel good to give. We give things no one really needs, the latest cell phone or PC game, jewelry or a luxurious scarf. We buy because who can resist a great deal, a deep discount, the two-inch thick stack of circular ads in the local paper. We buy because it is expected of us. Because it is tradition.

Christmas music predominates the air waves, and the TV networks show round the clock holiday shows. Hopefully they remind us of what is important.

My favorite Christmas moments include messages of hope and a reminder to love one another. They tear down the profit-driven life and challenge us to reconsider our ultimate concern.
12 Days of Christmas, Betty Alderman pattern

In "It's a Wonderful Life" we are taught that we all matter and that communities that band together thrive both individually and communally.
"Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you're talking about... they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn't think so. People were human beings to him, but to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they're cattle. Well, in my book he died a much richer man than you'll ever be."

Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol" tore away the facade of profit-driven business to reveal the twin enemies of humanity, ignorance and want:

"They were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meager, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shriveled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread. Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude. 'Spirit, are they yours?' Scrooge could say no more. 'They are Man's,' said the Spirit, looking down upon them. 'And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. ..."

Christmas Tree kit quilt
Charlie Brown finds Christmas depressing. When Charlie sees beauty in a sad little tree that only needs a bit of love the children reject him as "hopeless". Lucy proclaims, "We all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket. Its run by a big Eastern Syndicate you know." She loves the sound of money. It is Linus who quotes the Bible in "A Charlie Brown Christmas" to remind that the reason for the season is remembering how Jesus came into the world to save us from ourselves.

The Bob Cratchett family in "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol" exemplifies thankfulness for what we have now, and forgiveness for those who sin against you. Bob teaches by example and offers, "Enjoy with me the miracle of now."
Advent Light

Every year my high school held a Christmas concert that ended with all choirs joining in for "O, Holy Night." It was a moment I anticipated with great eagerness every year.
"O holy night! The stars are brightly shining/It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.Long lay the world in sin and error pining,/'Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth. 
...A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices/For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Truly He taught us to love one another;/His law is love and His gospel is peace.Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;/And in His name all oppression shall cease."
Blazing Star
I wish you a holiday season that brings hope, peace, and contentment. As Tiny Tim says, "God bless us, everyone."
Bright Christmas

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