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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Find your own Christmas

Do you ever tire of reading letters like this one:

"It saddens me to see the glory of Christ removed from Christmas. For years we saw Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year emblazoned across storefronts until it became XMAS. Now Christmas trees have become holiday trees, great trees or family trees and traditional Christmas carols are discouraged in some schools." (from the Dec. 4,2007, Huntington, Texas Item)

The perennially recycled "Keep Christ in Christmas" theme--familiar, huh? The writer shares a common worry with many letter-writers at this time of year: the dreaded secularization of Christmas.

We were watching A Charlie Brown Christmas tonight (for the third time this season). This melancholy little gem was first presented in 1965: 42 years ago. And what's it about? Charlie Brown trying to find the true meaning of Christmas among the commercialism of the pink metal trees and Snoopy's garishly decorated doghouse, and the lists of presents his friends want. And find it he does, in the words of a little boy reciting the Nativity story from the Bible, and in the magical trimming of the most pathetic Christmas tree ever.

Charlie Brown, too, was worried about what he saw around him, but acted, and learned.

I was thinking about how the writer of the letter kept looking for Christmas around her, and could only see the lack of it; how Charlie Brown lamented the crass commercialism of the season, and found what he needed in his friends, and his little tree.

And it made me think of this.

Mother Teresa once wrote, in response to a person who wanted to join her in India:

"Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering and the lonely right there where you are -- in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools. ... You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society -- completely forgotten, completely left alone."

And I realized that, if I could talk to that lady who wrote the letter, I'd recommend she watch "A Charlie Brown Christmas" one more time, and then I would borrow some of Mother Teresa's words, and tell the lady, worry not about that which is around you: those things you cannot change. But rather, change what you can:

Lady, find your own Christmas. Find the sick, the suffering and the lonely right where you are--in your own home and in your family, in your workplace or in your school.... You can find Christmas all over the world, if you have the eyes to see. Even at the mall, even in the schools, even at that place with the "Happy Holidays" sign. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society--completely forgotten, completely left alone. Forget the holiday tree and the season's greetings. Remember to live Christmas, because that's what we should have learned from Christ. How to live it.

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