[private] Christmas is about a lot of things and has many different meanings for different people. There are all manner of thoughts ranging from the classic American proverbs, “Christmas comes but once a year is enough” and “Christmas is the season when you buy this year’s gifts with next year’s money,” to the popular tune wishing that every day could be like Christmas. Growing up in West End during the 1950’s and 1960’s, Christmas was customarily ushered in with music. It was always the most musical time of the year; well loved songs were the soul of the holiday season. There was a tradition of going from house to house before dawn on Christmas morning singing carols. Voices that were often silent throughout most of the year were sparked by the spirit of the holiday season. Local musicians joined in the celebration as the season’s most beloved songs, from “Silent Night” and “O Holy Night” to “Jingle Bells” and “Deck the Halls,” were belted out from one location to the next. During the performance the occupants of the house being serenaded would open their windows or door to thank the carolers and wish them a happy holiday season. This routine was repeated at just about every home.
Christmas memories were not just carried on a tune, they were ushered in. This is why for me, music has the ability to evoke a special connection with Christmases past, and make them ever present. In effect, music helps to define the season. Of course, Christmas is also about families coming together. About seeing and greeting old friends. And especially about seeing little children’s smiling faces and their joyful anticipation. It’s about Santa Clause, reindeer, roasted turkey and mistletoe. But above all, it is about the birth of our Lord and Savior, which I enjoy proclaiming as the real reason for the season. The birth of Christ, the greatest gift of all. Perhaps that is why Christmas has always been a time for reaching out to help those less fortunate. If I had to define Christmas in one sentence, I would say that Christmas is all about unselfish giving, especially giving to those in need.
I recall a story I once read about the great Argentine golfer, Roberto De Vincenzo, which in my estimation recounts a classic example of his unselfish giving and his greatness not as a golfer but as a human being. We are told that a person’s true character is revealed by what he does when no one is watching. After winning a golf tournament, De Vincenzo received his check on the eighteenth green, flashed a smile for the cameras, and walked alone to the clubhouse. As he went to his car, he was approached by a sad-eyed young woman who said to him, “It’s a good day for you, but I have a baby with an incurable disease. It’s of the blood, and doctors say she will die.” De Vincenzo paused for a second and then he asked, “May I help your little girl?” He then took out his pen, endorsed his winning check and pressed it into her hand. “Make some good days for the baby,” he said. A week later as he was having lunch at the country club, a PGA official approached him and said, “Some of the boys in the parking lot told me you met a young woman after you won the tournament,” De Vincenzo nodded. The official said, “Well, she’s a phony, she has no sick baby. She fleeced you, my friend.” The golfer looked up and asked, “You mean that there is no baby who is dying without hope?” The PGA official nodded. De Vincenzo grinned and said, “That’s the best news I’ve had all week.”
I am totally convinced that the heart of a man cannot be determined by the size of his pocketbook. De Vincenzo received a lot of press coverage for being an outstanding golfer, but this one story from his life shows his greatness as a person.
“Kindness is the oil that takes the friction out of life.” I can think of no better time to exercise kindness than at Christmas. We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give. Bear in mind the person who does things that count doesn’t usually stop to count them. And, those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.
Let us be especially grateful for the simple pleasures of this blessed time of year. Remember, the smallest good deed is greater than the grandest intention. Finally, during this holiday season, may you receive the spirit of Christmas which is peace, the gladness of Christmas which is hope, and above all, the heart of Christmas which is love.
Have a blessed Christmas everyone and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. [/private]