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Suns & Shields

By Rachelle Hamlin

Read more of Rachelle's editorials:  Suns & Shields Index page

Toys, Joys and Christmas Giving

By: Rachelle Hamlin

Fort Fairfield Journal, December 24, 2014

This year I met a certified Grinch. We hear his negative buzz from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, his busy season. I saw him (of all places) in a Bible Study group. He appeared with all the force of a gale wind! Soon smashed bits of glittering tree ornaments, strips of tissue paper and red ribbons, evergreen branches, tiny crèche figures, candles and crumbled cookies whirled around in our heads instead of visions of gingerbread. It felt like a hurricane of candy canes. The Grinch doesn’t tip-toe around when he gets riled.

Me? I like toys, joys and Christmas giving. I reject the Leftist Ideology that money is bad, that it’s wrong to be wealthy and that money-hungry businesspeople only do Christmas for filthy lucre. I believe in the handshake economy that says that if I want something and you have produced it for me, then I’ll buy it from you with a heart full of thanks. I think you deserve something for your trouble and I appreciate every store owner and all the employees that keep it going right down to the guy they pay to keep the parking lot clean. To me, Christmas is wonderful and I don’t want less of it. We need more of it.

I also reject the post-Reformation big-heads that sat in dark rooms and wrote learned dissertations quoting obscure texts, thousands of years old to justify that European Christian History ought to be body-slammed to the mat because they don’t like Catholics. Looking at European traditions with loving eyes, we find that the Christians who lived from the Renaissance to the Reformation developed some awesome, some brilliant and some wonderfully wholesome ways to celebrate and perpetuate the glad tidings to the Earth that Christ the Savior was born. Among them is the intended symbolism of the Christmas tree, the many recreations of the St. Nicholas traditions, the gatherings of families and their extensions to the sick, needy and poor, the social celebrations of loving friends, the gift giving and how it teaches that it is indeed more joyful to give than to receive, and so much more that I would need a book to do it justice. They all are firmly and cleanly rooted in New Testament scriptures.

It was Jesus who said, by the way, that you can know a tree by its fruits. The fruits of the Holy Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance… against such there was no law until the Grinch appeared. Christmas is about love that we show is real by our visits, our gifts, our cards and our invitations to fellowship with each other during the many happy events of Christmas. There is no better way to end each year than with the four weeks of the Advent season.

Everyone who celebrates Christmas focuses on Jesus, the Prince of Peace, the source of present peace, the hope of future peace on Earth and the securer of the everlasting Peace of heaven. During Christmastime we might encounter suffering, but the energy of heightened awareness of Christ-with-us causes us to think twice before turning natural compassion aside. Millions of grateful people find ways to be charitable and in families where there are hurts involved, hearts reach out to try to bridge gaps. As for gentleness, the sight of Joseph, Mary and Jesus, that little struggling family so tender and quiet in their humble surroundings displays that profound happiness comes from loving unity. There is not one speck of battle connected with that scene.

Goodness is the Santa Claus message, is it not? “You’d better be good I’m telling you why.” You don’t need to be a genius to understand that Santa Claus is there to preach the gospel to little children not to you. Yet, you value the gospel message when it’s preached in adult language, do you not? Santa evangelizes children by the incentive to be good and to learn what unacceptable behavior is. Who wants coal on Christmas Day… the long awaited day… the one when we find out if we’ve been good? Kids get it. The Grinch hates for children to learn that.

For those to whom Christmas is best enjoyed through the prism of Faith, the season affords wonderful Christmas concerts, caroling, great Christmas music on the airwaves, Advent traditions in homes and churches, Midnight Masses, the Passing of the Light, the humming of O Little Town of Bethlehem in the shower as we get ready for work. We light candles, we pray with more delicate care and our hearts flow with delicious sincerity. We extend our faith through the selection of just the right words in our printed cards with hurried signatures.

Meekness and temperance has no better nurturing ground than in the fellowship that we extend to one another around the excuse that it’s a Christmas party not a beer-fest. Friends who frequently meet at restaurants anytime during the year will dress in glitter and bright colors, bring gifts that surprise each other and provoke laughter. They’ll express genuine warmth and cheer to a greater degree at a Christmas social. This is magnified when we get together with the closest of family and friends on the evening or morning of December 25th. Oh how the Grinch wants us not to have that moment when with everything done and everyone come we bask in the life changing moments of sharing it all with cherished souls! The special treats are on the tables, the smell of good cooking fills the home, the beauty of all the special effects surround us, cameras flash and a day of unabashed celebration and rest lies before us. For just a few wondrous hours it seems that heavenly bliss is not a promise but a certainty.



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