You’ve heard it: “Christmas is for the kids,” “It’s too commercial,” “It takes too much work.”

We all may have voiced these sentiments at times, because each of them holds some truth. Throughout the Christmas season hopefully we find more meaning and more pleasure than this. We can treasure togetherness, memories, beauty — and peace.

“Peace on earth, good will toward men,” is what the Biblical account says the angels sang that night.  Peace on earth? Where is it? There is war, fighting, hatred, shootings, horrible crimes in every part of the globe.

But inner peace? Over that we do have more control.

Surely everyone has heard of the Golden Rule, which states that we should do as we want to be done by.  Probably all have heard: “Love thy neighbor.” Maybe even: “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Surely everyone knows whose teachings these were.

That baby, born in Bethlehem, grew up and spent his short life trying to convince us that peace on earth would be possible if we human beings would only learn to treat each other with respect and love. Too many of us have ignored the wisdom of His words and have not made improvements necessary to bring much change. Are we humans even capable of the unselfish love necessary to achieve peace worldwide?  Some are; some are not.

Christmas is a time when most people do enjoy the unique joy — and yes, the feeling of personal peace —that our special celebrations, the music, and the bright beauty bring. We sincerely mean our greetings of “Merry Christmas!” We enjoy being with loved ones, and watching the little ones. We treasure the cards from people with whom we have stayed in touch over the years. The gifts, especially those given, but also those received, do seem to be a symbol of love. Giving is a way of showing love.

Why can’t we show more love the rest of the year? Of course it is complicated, but I believe it is basically because of our instinctive greed and selfishness. Certain instincts are necessary for our survival. A newborn baby knows instinctively how to eat. Taking care of oneself is also necessary for survival. Self-preservation therefore is natural and instinctive. The maturing process as a child grows can be, and should be, influenced toward feeling respect and concern for others also.

Actually, humans do have a natural feeling of love for other people. It begins with a baby’s first smile in response to a kind face, and he continues to respond to others, and to want their company. Most people grow up with the ability to love others, and the willingness to step back sometimes to accommodate someone else’s needs.

The greedy and self-centered ones may cut down anyone or anything that stands in their way. They have a philosophy of hate, with love only for themselves, if that. It sometimes seems that today’s society as a whole is too much of a “me first” one.

Is Christmas for the kids? It surely is, but for all of us, too. Is it too commercial? Yes, if one pays attention to that. Is there too much work? It’s up to each of us to plan and simplify and assign ourselves enough time.

But Christmas is also a beautiful, wonderful time for enjoying personal peace. Whether or not one sees Christmas as a religious holiday, it’s for showing love. You want to make someone happy, so you give them a gift. What is wrong with that? It should be a joyous, loving, thoughtful season.

Besides, what would bleak December be without Christmas?

Have a merry one!

Mavis J. Longfellow is a resident of Manchester, where she and her late husband, Lawrence, were the original owners of Longfellow’s Greenhouses.     


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