"Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?" - Dr. Seuss
We've all heard the exhortations to return to the "true meaning of Christmas," but when do we ever act upon it? Why do we watch "It's a Wonderful Life" and then ignore the man sitting alone in the church pew during the candlelight service? The message of Christmas is a much more difficult one than we surmise, not because we are forced to "accept the Christ-child" or believe the nativity story, but because we are reminded - we are called - to treat one another with love and kindness, especially now in the depths of winter. The angel who appeared to the shepherds made his most important point first: "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people" (Luke 2:10). The Christmas season reminds us that we, too, are to bring good news of great joy, by living it. That we are to love, as we ourselves have been loved.
So what if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more? What if Christmas means more than gifts, sumptuous dinners, snow and traveling? What if Christmas means more than celebrating the hope of spring warmth in the darkness of the winter solstice? What if Christmas means more than the second chapter of Luke, more than the nativity and the remembrance of the day God was made flesh? What if Christmas, perhaps, means even a little bit more than Christ? Christmas is God's reminder to us of the whole plan - the triumph of love in the midst of all hardship or suffering - and that the "Christmas spirit" can overcome Christmas. This is how we discover the "true meaning of Christmas," and how we learn to live it. The true meaning of Christmas surpasses Christmas, permeates every person and every day and brings salvation to the world, but only when we quit talking about it and do it.
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