Thanks/ Giving of Ourselves for the Christmas Season
It dawned on me last Christmas Day morning that for this Thanksgiving we should start something new. As Christmas music is already playing in malls across America we should start planning our Christmas list now. Here’s mine.
I was surfing the Internet instead of opening presents last Christmas as I don’t have much to do Christmas morning because I’m Jewish. I pulled up the New York Times website and there was a picture of Pope Benedict XVI delivering his traditional “Urbiet Orbi” address to the world from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica. His appearance was regal, yet not overtly ostentatious.
Pope Benedict urged that people make room for God. He noted that man is so preoccupied with himself and has such urgent need for space and time for his own things that nothing remains for others, for his neighbor, for the poor or for God.
The Pope also expressed his concern for people with legitimate aspirations for a more secure existence, including health, education, stable employment and full participation in civil and political responsibilities. He asked us to extend these benefits to our fellow human beings, which could lead to a fuller human dignity for us all.
He further urged the crowd at St. Peter’s and his larger worldwide audience to rejoice over the celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth, which he hoped would bring solace to all the people in the world “who live in the darkness of poverty, injustice and war”. On Christmas, he said, his thoughts turn to victims of injustice, including women, children and the elderly, refugees, victims of environmental disasters and religious and ethnic tensions. The Pope also spoke about how he hopes world leaders find the wisdom and courage to end bloody conflicts in tortured regions such as Darfur, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Congo, the Eritrea-Ethiopia border, Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian territories, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the Balkans.
I thought about how we in America, could make a stand for The Spirit of Christmas as the Pope elucidated it, whether one is Christian or not. I thought that if we could all start living the spirit of Christmas from the time we heard the first Christmas song on TV or in the mall, we could use this 6-week period as a time to self-check our values, as Catholics have traditionally used Lent to change their mentality and move closer to godliness. I thought of what we could all give up, like for Lent, to remind us what a beautiful vision Christ and the Pope had of personal sacrifice for the good of others.
Hearing the call for change and sacrifice for the betterment of others and the world at large we could all pledge to change Christmas’s overall orientation from giving a material gift to someone to giving an act of kindness, with the exception of giving ¬one gift to each child.
We could start a national movement for Christmas 2008 to be a time to give acts of kindness to one another from Thanksgiving Day until December 25th instead of giving gifts. What better year than now for this change? It could be our personal revolt against what is wrong with the materialism and self servingness of our society. It could be our way to take a stand for giving of oneself. We could all commit to make our daily life look and feel as God, and we ourselves, might want it to be in a more ideal world.
Beginning on Thanksgiving Day 2008 our acts of kindness would be directed toward one another. We would then have to think about what act of kindness we would give to a person, instead of what physical gift we give one another. We would have to think what action we could take in our own life would benefit someone else in theirs according to what they need. It would do us all some good to think about what influences and actions someone else needs in their lives instead of just our own.
We might one day come to think of a “material gift” as kind of a “cheap” way not to do the harder, but better, act of thinking about what the people who we touch spiritually and emotionally need to make their life easier or better. Then we will make the world a better place, inspired by our belief in Jesus Christ or other well-intentioned thoughts and people, including each other.