There is so much going on in the world that is disturbing and troubling. Some days it’s hard to cope with it all: mass shootings, anti-semitism, Nazism/fascism, genuine hatred for other human beings based on their sexual orientation or the color of their skin.
Even more troubling, it doesn’t seem to take a rest. You would hope that this time of year even the people filled with hate would take a breath for a few days, but that’s simply naive. The love of the Christmas season doesn’t compute with those people.
It should for the rest of us, though.
I get that Christmas is as much a secular holiday as it is a religious one. I am a Christian, but I’m not going to complain about people celebrating Christmas focused on Santa Claus and his reindeer rather than the birth of Jesus. (And, seriously, there is no war on Christmas. It’s the people playing the victim and complaining that turn off non-Christians from ever going to church or appreciating the story of the birth of Jesus.)
The reason it doesn’t bother me is even the secular versions of Christmas are still about love for your fellow man. They’re about giving and self-sacrifice, inclusion and understanding.
Charlie Brown creator Charles Schulz liked to include fairly subtle messages in his stories. In his classic “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Linus reads from the King James Version of the Bible to explain Christmas, but Schulz lived by the idea of “an obligation I believe all humans have to others and the world we live in.”
In Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” The Grinch realizes:
“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
‘Maybe Christmas,’ he thought, ‘doesn’t come from a store.’”
I also know that Christmas time can be stressful for many people. Grief and loss can be especially pronounced at this time of year with memories of loved ones coming to the fore. That makes it difficult to truly enjoy the season.
As I get older, my Christmas list definitely gets shorter. Like most parents, I still love to see surprise and excitement on my kids’ faces, but I’m not terribly worried about myself.
A completely secular song about the season sums up my feelings of Christmas and celebrating the holiday. “A Grown-Up Christmas List,” originally written by Linda Thompson and David Foster, includes the chorus:
“So here’s my lifelong wish
My grown-up Christmas list
Not for myself but for a world in need
No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end, no,
This is my grown-up Christmas list.”