As another Christmas Day dawns upon us, I find myself in deep thought reflecting on all that Christmas means to me. Some of us choose to celebrate or not celebrate Christmas for personal, and religious reasons. Whatever your position is, it is not my responsibility to judge you. But as for me and my house, the spirit of Christmas is alive and well.
One of my earliest memories of Christmas was when I was 10 years of age, and I woke up on Christmas Day to find that there were no gifts under the tree for me, and my four siblings. I don’t know why my mother failed to buy us gifts. I dreaded going outdoors seeing all the other kids in the neighborhood riding their bicycles, and playing with their toys. Seeing the sad looks on our faces, my single mother mom gave the four oldest kids $5 each (my younger brother Isaac was only months old). My oldest brother Warren, and I made a bee line to the corner store to buy a couple of plastic cap guns, and we played cops and robbers that morning until we ran out of the paper rolled caps that provided the noise, and smoke.
I promised myself that whenever I have kids, I would buy them everything they ever wanted. Through hard work and perseverance, I earned enough money to do just that for my son, and daughter. But as my kids got older, became more independent, and started spending more time with their friends, I began to look back on all those Christmases and concluded that what made Christmas special to me was not presents, but presence. When my brother and I was playing cops and robbers with those cheap $1.99 cap guns, it was one of my fondest memories ever. Not because we had gifts, but because we had each other. I can’t remember half the presents I bought or received for Christmas through the years, but I remember the good times I had due to the presence of loved ones.
We are at a crossroad in our nation’s history. The world is in turmoil with everything from terrorism to natural disasters. I am a man of resolve. I ask God to cloak me with humility, and allow me to show mercy when appropriate. But sometimes fervency gets the best of me, and I fall short of HIS glory. Yet, I seek to find optimism in my heart for the pain that we as humans cause one another. What gives me hope is the extended love I see in the streets, shopping centers, and malls during the holiday season. People really go out of their way to be nice, peaceful, and generous around Christmas time.
What if we could keep that going all year, every year? What if we built people up, reminded them that they were worthy, told them they were beautiful, and made it a point to talk with them or visit them frequently throughout the year? What if we made it a point to build relationships, foster peace, and made sure everyone had a decent meal every day, not just during the holidays? What if we got back to caring about our neighbors, and our neighbors children? We as a people, the human race, would be unstoppable.
Christmas is a time for reflection of events in the past, and those yet to come. I think of my deceased parents, and others who are no longer with us, and I hurt. But I find solace in having known them, and being blessed with the fruits of their labor. I love listening to Christmas carols, and songs. However, instead of stressing out over what gift to buy and how much money to spend, I now focus on how much time to spend with the people who matter to me most. They are the people who make me forget that I was broken. They are the ones who make me want to be a better friend, a better father, a better man.
In the midst of all the hustle and bustle, don’t forget to spend time with people who make you forget that you were broken. That’s what Christmas is about to me.
Merry Christmas and to all a good night!