The Woolwich Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

CHRIST­MAS, IT SEEMS, IS a lit­tle less merry than it used to be. Oh, not nec­es­sar­ily in ab­so­lute terms, but anec­do­tal ev­i­dence shows we’re shar­ing fewer greet­ings of “Merry Christ­mas” or even the more neu­tral “Happy Hol­i­days.” Per­haps even fewer in­ci­dences of meet­ing “smile af­ter smile.”

Maybe this can be blamed on po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness: Peo­ple are afraid to of­fend, so they say noth­ing. If that’s the case, we’re cer­tainly tak­ing the shine off a hol­i­day like no other.

There’s the crux: Christ­mas is not just an­other day off from work or school. No other hol­i­day even comes close in terms of the good­will and an­tic­i­pa­tion en­gen­dered by what oc­curs each 25th of De­cem­ber. It tran­scends even re­li­gion, as wit­nessed by how we cel­e­brate Easter, a more sig­nif­i­cant hol­i­day on the Chris­tian cal­en­dar, yet it doesn’t gen­er­ate the same re­ac­tion.

Even if you’re not re­li­giously in­clined or of an­other faith, there’s still some­thing de­light­ful about Christ­mas – the one time of year where we live up to our po­ten­tial as kind, con­sid­er­ate hu­man be­ings. We like our­selves bet­ter for it, but seem un­able to carry it through more than a few weeks.

Yes, those of the Chris­tian faith cel­e­brate the birth of Je­sus Christ. And in re­cent years that has sparked a cer­tain amount of con­tro­versy, as the unimag­i­na­tive deem the hol­i­day in­com­pat­i­ble with a mul­ti­cul­tural so­ci­ety. That is, of course, pif­fle sup­ported by a few blowhards, in­clud­ing some of the ma­jor­ity cul­ture who feel they must act as apol­o­gists for our tra­di­tions. None of these peo­ple re­al­ize the magic of the sea­son ex­tends far beyond the re­li­gious as­pects.

Those who de­cry the com­mer­cial­ism of Christ­mas would say it’s just greed that makes us en­joy the sea­son, but that’s too sim­plis­tic. Christ­mas shows us what we could be, if only we’d em­brace our po­ten­tial.

If asked to de­scribe what they love about Christ­mas, even the most de­vout Chris­tians would go beyond the re­li­gious to tell of the glow and warmth that comes with be­ing near to fam­ily and friends at Christ­mas­time, a feel­ing un­re­peated at other gath­er­ings through­out the year. There’s an in­de­fin­able charge in the air, as if some­thing is com­pelling us to be more at­tuned to the world around us. We’re driven to be a lit­tle nicer (hope­fully more than a resid­ual de­sire to stay off of Santa’s naughty list) and to be a lit­tle more gen­er­ous to oth­ers – at least in sit­u­a­tions out­side of the mall, where it can still be ev­ery man or woman for him/her­self.

While some will ar­gue Christ­mas is sim­ply for chil­dren, they may be miss­ing the point that it’s a chance for all of us to be kids again, to try to re­cap­ture some of the in­no­cence and sense of won­der.

If the Christ­mas spirit is on the wane to­day, it’s be­cause we let busi­ness, stress and po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness in­trude on the hol­i­day – much as they do on our lives as we progress from child­hood into adult­hood.

The goal, then, is to re­cap­ture some of that zest, that an­tic­i­pa­tion and won­der that came with the Christ­mases of youth. At the same time, there is the need for an adult ap­pre­ci­a­tion of what a time­out from the “real world” can mean for the soul.

That’s the real magic of Christ­mas.

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