I have been pleasantly surprised this Advent season. I was prepared to receive a tidal wave of Happy Holidays and Seasons Greetings cards with no mention of Christmas in them. I have been listening for the growing trend towards the frustrating “Happy Holidays” from employees of retail and grocery stores. I assumed people would feel reluctant to give their time, talent and treasure in such a difficult economy. Lastly, I made an assumption that people would simply be down this Christmas and feel little joy in celebrating the birth of Christ. I have never been more delighted to be dead wrong.
Over the last few weeks I have witnessed countless times in my travels around the city of Atlanta people warmly wishing each other a Merry Christmas! Employees of retail stores and restaurants have been wishing customers Merry Christmas and I am amazed at the number of Christmas cards (not Holiday!) I received from business colleagues and clients this year-a much greater percentage than last year. To my great surprise I have witnessed countless acts of random kindness in many forms. From service projects to donated toys, food, clothing and money, people everywhere have generously given of themselves in helping the less fortunate this Christmas. It is clear to them that Christmas is not about how much you receive, it is how much you give to others. Lastly, so many people I know well (and many I have only recently gotten to know), have placed the focus on Christ this year and eagerly await His coming.
Why is all of this happening? I can only speculate, but I believe people are tired of being force-fed a materialistic lifestyle and an illusory “better life” that is never attainable. They are weary of the political correctness movement that has been progressively taking over our country. People are realizing that wishing someone “Merry Christmas” should not be construed as offending others and their beliefs, but instead is a simple and heartfelt manifestation of their own beliefs. How can that be offensive? We are a Christian country and our country was founded on Christian principles. Let’s embrace this fact and not run from it.
I also think good people everywhere are fed up with the economy, negative messages from the media and the direction of our country. The recent midterm election results clearly prove this point. Perhaps the joy and warm Christmas feeling I am observing is a rebellion against all that is bad and negative in our country and a return to our authentic selves? I believe this to be true and pray, as I will ask all of you to pray, that we never lose sight of what is truly important at Christmas: celebrating the birth of Christ, giving generously of ourselves to others and spending time with family and friends. Next year, I will commit to assume the best of people and look forward to another Advent as special as this one has been for me and my family. O Come, O Come Emmanuel!
May God grant you and your families Peace and Joy this Christmas.