It comes at rocket speed and exits just as fast.
By the time we’ve shopped, wrapped, sent cards, put up the tree, cooked, visited — Christmas is gone. And we never really stopped to think about it.
How do we integrate Christmas into a world perpetually at war and in which so many are hungry and poor?
Christmas is a reminder that we can be and do better. The world may be messed up in a lot of ways and we are the ones who messed it up.
But that’s not all we are. Christmas reminds us that even though there is war, poverty and selfishness, there also is love, generosity and kindness. Our faults don’t define us, even though it often seems as if they do.
Christmas teaches us to look outside ourselves, to be mindful and desirous of the well-being of others. And that our family is more than just our relatives. That’s why charitable donations are up at Christmas time.
And while Christmas has been criticized as crassly commercial, it shouldn’t be forgotten that the commerce involves buying gifts for others and not ourselves.
So, maybe it’s the rest of the year we really don’t understand.
How can kindness and concern for others become a part of us in April and August and not just for a few days in December?
Christmas sets the bar for this challenge. The world should — and can — be better than it is. And so can we.
How do we live and realize what Abraham Lincoln called the better angels of our nature?
And how do we do this all year long and not just on December 25th?
It’s not as if we don’t have examples before us. Just look around at your friends and neighbors who volunteer to help provide food and housing for those in want, who tutor children, who deliver meals to the homebound, who provide shelter for the abused…
The honor roll of decency goes on.
So, it may be true that the world is a mess, thanks to human beings.
But not all of it is a mess.
Also thanks to human beings.
There is hope for us. And hope is a large part of Christmas.