Depending upon whether your glass is half empty or half full, you are a skeptic, nihilist, atheist, realist, Christian, positivist, complainer, or some other ist, this season holds wonder and joy, is a mercantilist's dream or just another lousy string of endless days of hopeless, random circumstance or power plays by hungry elites juggling to be "masters of the universe." (and if they are men, which they most likely are, they are prancing around in machoism covering their little boy fears).
Well, I, for one go through periods where, momentarily, or for a day or so am overwhelmed by one of the ist moods. But underneath these philosophies or bio-chemical transitions, I am a Christian. And that is the foundation upon which my life present, past, future has and will be be built. I am not a religionist, preaching a specific iconography or series of habitual practices. My belief is more like that expressed in The Christmas Carol, Dickens brilliant masterpiece which, regardless of however much of an atheist or nihilist one may be, rings a distant bell somewhere in the heart. And if it doesn't, then you are beyond me in intellectual rationality, if there is such a thing...because, my dear intellectual rationalist and purist of logic, THERE IS AN UNCONSCIOUS MIND that you DO NOT CONTROL, NOR CAN YOU RATIONALIZE YOUR EXISTENCE AWAY FROM.
So I am constantly amazed by the Christmas spirit, beyond the gift giving, food swapping, dinners, parties and endless buying and selling in the marketplace. If you are expecting the facile e-mail story about the guy at McDonalds who the family is touched by or some other tear wrenching tale, then forget it. This is not it. This is an expression of what is intangible, of the little small, insignificant instances of joy, happiness and peace, sadness, triumph or loss that are taken for granted. And it is a remembrance of family actually sitting together and sharing a meal, however, sumptuous or plain the fare, of a child writing out a card to a relative she or he may see once a year, and who they are looking forward to seeing, of a friend whose personality is slowly being eaten away by dementia or Alzheimer's and the fleeting thought and fear...will she or he be at this good of a state next Christmas.
There are trillions more instances of the Christmas Spirit of kindness, hope, joy and goodness that are not really seen or recognized but are there and are life filled. And these are the priceless treasures, not the huge and expensive gifts, not the bonuses which, transitory, are as forgotten as the lost thought in the mind of one with dementia, because, after received, comes the eventual thought, will I get a bonus next year? Were my peers' bonuses as high? Or what if I lose this job?
A priceless, globally unknown and insignificant measure of Christmas spirit occurs each year in Bayside, NY. A family gets pleasure from putting up a decorative arts display of lights, moving wintery scenes, Christmas character icons, that really is amazing, one of the finest in the area. Arrogance? Boasting? Competition? Heavy carbon footprinter? Well, are you a nihilist, scrooge? What are your basic values? Is the glass half empty or half full? Do you have a glass at all?
The gala takes four months to assemble and arrange; I told you this family gets off on this, (better than opium) and enjoys pleasing the audience who comes from far and wide each year to comment and praise and appreciate and SHARE. And the spectators are bold, like family. They walk up on the porch and smile and point at the twirling diminutive ice skaters and the racing toy trains, they admire Santa's Christmas elves and the wrapped presents. The stare in shock at the effort, diligence and sheer love that brought this enterprise together, this showcase of community and love and appreciation for life. The cars park, the cars stream by, the flashes go off and we all know that this is what Christmas is. You can't really express it in words and it is far beyond the sentimentality of, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus." It is a paradox of reality and spirit, if there is such a thing that combines the two, even if the two can be spoke of in the same breath.
Well, this showcase has been effected for years. And donations given by those who appreciate the efforts and beauty are given to children's foundation, as the neighbors and friends can attest. And is that the best of what is being done here? Not according to the nihilist who posted somewhere, you can just hear the grouchy, fat sneer in his voice, "these folks don't care about the energy wastefulness." I think I responded that neither did he and should turn off his computer.
I don't think the family pretends to be anything other than what this is and what this represents. So if a person can't see it and feel it in the instant of spirit, then it is not for them. They can go on being miserable and cranky, unlike Scrooge, who had a change of heart, mind and spirit, threw off his cloak of bitterness and saw what was bright and beautiful before him.
This is just to say, for coal givers, the bitter realists, the maskers and liars who wear knowledge to cover the little hurt child inside whose dreams were crashed by a brutal, adult hand, may you have a change of heart brought to you by the Christmas spirit, that is ineffable, intangible but real. God bless.