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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Janice Norris: What does Christmas mean to you?

  • It’s that time of year when we nourish the spirit. Everywhere we go there is more cheer, more acceptance, more love.
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  • A friend recently said of Christmas that it seems like we have lost Christmas—it just seems to be about trying to be sold as much stuff as possible.  We have practically crowded out Thanksgiving in our rush to go out and buy!  What used to be Thanksgiving when families took time to be together and give thanks for each other and our blessings has turned out to be a day to rush to get more.  I ran across a column I wrote many years ago (I think we were still living in IL the first time it was published).  Does it still apply today or has Christmas become another example of unconsciously following the herd?  Like my friend, I remember when Christmas was different.  There was not so much stuff, but there was a lot more enjoyment of what we did have.  Christmas was a time of high spirits and excitement.  It doesn’t seem that way today---or is it just me?  Anyway, here is the column.  I hope it is meaning for you:
     
    It’s that time of year when we nourish the spirit.  Everywhere we go there is more cheer, more acceptance, more love. 
                Sometimes we may look at the commercialism of Christmas and wonder if it’s all a sham.  Several years ago, when I was shopping in a large store, I began to listen to the shoppers all around me.  I heard the most wonderful conversations:  “Do you think she will like this?”  “He really needs a warm coat.”  “This color will be good on her.”  “She will love this!”
                Then it dawned on me – at this time of year, everyone is thinking of someone else!  That is why we have this good Christmas feeling.
                People often spend money they don’t have for gifts at Christmas.  We let our true spirits shine through and we get caught up in the wonderful joy of giving.   People like to give but we usually hold back, because in our society, we have become sidetracked. 
                In many ways, we have been taught to take all we can get, and that accumulating things gives us security.  Not so at Christmas.  During this holiday, we take the opposite approach.  We want to give all we can.  We think little about whether or not the gifts are deserved or earned.
    Page 2 of 3 -             A naughty child receives gifts just the same as the obedient one.  Our hearts over-flow as we select gifts, contribute to the needy, or donate to a worthy cause. 
                At Christmastime, we get a glimpse of the secret of life.  Our souls are receiving nourishment as we participate in unconditional love.
                Such love knows no boundaries.  It does not require an airplane ticket to travel to distant places.  It has tremendous strength and can travel across the miles, or even bridge the chasm that separates us in death – just because we feel it.
                How appropriate that God should show us unconditional love through the birth of a child.  Everyone loves a baby!  We can love a newborn without fear of rejection; we can give it our whole heart.  The love of a baby changes households and softens hardened hearts. 
                We hail the birth of infants.  They are, as Carl Sandburg said, “God’s opinion that life should go on.”  A baby does not love you because you are pretty, smart, talented, or rich.  S/he loves you just because – unconditionally and with no strings attached.
                That marvelous women, Elizabeth Kubler Ross, has said that if we can have a generation that knows unconditional love, we will have a generation that has no fear of death or of life.  We come closest to that ideal at Christmas.
                We buy and make gifts feverishly to give as expressions of our love.  It’s suddenly very important that they know we love them.  Seldom do we stop to ponder that with love, we don’t need so many things to give.  They wouldn’t even be missed – if we have enough love. 
                My special gift to you this Christmas is to share these thoughts written by Emmet Fox:
    LOVE
    “There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer;
    No disease that enough love will not heal;
    No door that enough love will not open;
    No gulf that enough love will not bridge;
    No wall that enough love will not throw open;
    Page 3 of 3 - No sin that enough love will not redeem.
    It makes no difference how deeply seeded may be the trouble;
    How hopeless the outlook, how muddled the tangle, how great the mistake;
    A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all.
    If only you could love enough, you would be the
    happiest, and most powerful being in the world.”
                If these words do not have meaning for you now, keep them for future reference.  The day will come when they will.
                Have a Happy Christmas by loving each other –the most complete nourishment that I know.  Without spiritual nourishment, the physical nourishment we speak of so often is incomplete, at best.
     
    (Janice Norris lives in Heber Springs, has a B.S. in home economics from Murray State University, owned and operated health food stores in Illinois and Heber Springs, and wrote a weekly column in Illinois for 15 years. She can be reached at janicenorris34@yahoo.com)

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