By JAMIE PARSELL
Two days till Christmas. Yet, somehow, the spirit of Christmas is missing, despite good intentions.
I have done my shopping, wrapping, baking and decorating for the big day. That is the easy part, painting a facade of red and green for all the world to see.
I am not a Scrooge, I promise. Yet, I can’t help but feel a tone of sadness this holiday season.
As I write these words, the nation is mourning the loss of young life. The holiday season with all its promise doesn’t protect us from heartache. Truth and reality have the ability to triumph any dream of sugar plum fairies. Hot chocolate can turn cold. Lights can burn out. Presents can be the wrong size.
Life is hard even during the month of December.
A friend is mourning the loss of her brother this holiday season. Her December has been spent grieving beside the glow of a Christmas tree. Despite the unexpected chain of events, Christmas is still coming.
When I talked to her a few days ago, she was getting ready to wrap a few presents. She wasn’t in a rush to get things done before Dec. 25. Her priorities were on family; she said she would get the rest done eventually. A few packages here, and maybe some more later on.
If you personify Christmas, you would find that the holiday doesn’t care if you are single or married, old or young or male or female. It comes regardless of the situation — heartache or joy, good weather or bad. The holidays don’t ask if you are a present short or if you have all the ingredients for Christmas Day dinner. It arrives without fail, whether the stockings are hung with care or crooked on the mantle.
Are you ready for the big day? I really don’t think I am.
I feel guilty celebrating Christmas with all the trimmings — the cookies, presents and stories about St. Nick. But we can’t forget the holiday, nor push it to the side. Instead, it is time to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas. You see, there is hope in the birth of Jesus Christ, who came to save the world. And in a time of heartache, the real meaning of Christmas is like a comforting blanket. It wraps around the soul, providing more warmth than any cup of hot chocolate. The best part is the feeling of well-being doesn’t leave on midnight on Christmas Day. The birth of Jesus brought hope to mankind thousands of years ago and it remains for those on earth today.
Yes, our nation is hurting right now, along with our neighbor and friends. In response, some are undertaking a new holiday tradition — 26 acts of kindness in honor of the victims in Connecticut. Throughout the season, I have seen dozens of reasons to fight for the true meaning of Christmas. The Little Jimmie program, the Prerogative Shelter Drive, various food pantries, Women of Hope gift baskets, Salvation Army bell ringers, the Wade Center Christmas play and other organizations are examples of true kindness and a willingness to help others. These gifts are selfless acts. In the middle of the week, I received such a present. A stranger handed me a red button that said, “Jesus. He came for you.” It also said the words “Merry Christmas.” He didn’t know me, or how I felt about Christmas this year. However, the small act of kindness reinstated the real meaning of Christmas. I pinned the button on my shirt and wore it for the rest of the day. But I have plans for the small gift. It needs to be passed on before Christmas Eve. Someone else needs to know there is more to the holiday than glitter and presents. I don’t know who yet, or how I will give the person the small token. But I have two days left to pass on the true meaning of Christmas and a chance to be a part of the 26 acts of kindness.
Jamie Parsell is the lifestyle editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @BDTParsell.