Sunday, December 27, 2009

The "true" message of Christmas

I will humbly propose the "true" message of Christmas. But I do this humbly since there are always differences of opinion. Years ago when I attended the Infantry Officer Advanced Course, I was a liaison to the students from various coutries. As part of the course for them, they were taken on some trips to survey America. One student commented, "I have been to Columbus, Georgia, that was not the true America. I have seen Atlanta, Georgia, that was not the true America. I have seen Washington, DC, that was not the true America. But now I have seen the true America, I have seen Disney World!!"

There is a Christian message and tradition such as in Germany well articulated briefly in the Short Story by Adalbert Schnitzler, Berg Krystal. There are also numerous neo-myths of Christmas featuring Santa Claus such as Miracle on 34th Street. The non-Christian traditions of the Winter Solstice are captured in echoes of Holiday Songs such as Deck the Halls, O Christmas Tree, etc.

Rather than dispute or debate what the true message of Christmas is, I would like to offer my message of Christmas. I was impressed with a message in the movie, Fred Claus. In the movie, Santa Clause strictly adheres to the doctrine of checking the list twice to find out who is naughty and nice. The naughty don’t receive anything. Fred, Santa’s brother, has a different idea. He believes that if a child who doesn’t deserve a present can receive one, it can turn them around, it can change their life.

It definitely is very humbling to receive a gift we don’t deserve. Occasionally I will punish my children with grace. I will describe their deserved punishment and then I will commute it. I can’t expect them to know about mercy unless they experience it. Other times when my daughter complains that her brother is getting away with things, I point out to her some things that I did not punish her for.

So, that is my message of Christmas. Treat people better than they deserve. I sure liked it when I was treated better than I deserved so I am now just returning the favor.

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