The True Meaning of Christmas
So the other day, I heard one more talking-head television commentator announce that Christmas isn’t like it used to be, that the economy is still tough, and that everyone is cutting back, trying to do more with much less. Gee, I said, thanks for pointing that out, because without your clarification, parents across America wouldn’t have noticed.
On reflection, what I really thought was, “Wait a minute. We don’t want to pronounce the Christmas holiday DOA or even seriously wounded because we have less to spend this year. Have we forgotten that this is the time of year when less is supposed to be more?”
Think about why we really love this holiday. Our favorite Christmas stories are never the ones about what someone accumulated, but the ones about someone being impacted, even transformed, by the power of a particular emotion brought on by giving or by the nostalgia of a long-forgotten memory revisited. The stories we love during this time of the year are never elaborate tales about those blessed with great bounty. They are about small things: a boy with a crutch, a dirty-faced but hopeful child, an old angel trying to earn his wings as he takes care of a broken-down banker, wonderful and memorable music, good smells from a warm kitchen and, of course, an infant in a manger.
The Christmas holidays are always able to survive through tough times, because they are not about who we are or what we have. They are always about who we want, hope and strive to be. They are about us getting together as families — even if our families are not perfect or always particularly happy. They are about us reaffirming friendships — even if it’s with friends with whom we’ve, sadly, lost touch. The holidays are about us telling the ones we love most just how much we love them, and then telling them again and again.
“They were not a handsome family,” Charles Dickens wrote of the Cratchits in A Christmas Carol. “They were not well dressed; their shoes were far from being water-proof; their clothes were scanty … But they were happy, grateful, pleased with one another, and contented with the time.”
My holiday wish for my family and friends, and for all of you, is to be contented with the time. My wish is that we all choose to embrace all the things that you don’t find under a tree — the qualities of faith and hope, of kindness and commitment.
Merry Christmas from all the McGraws and from everyone at the Dr. Phil show.