What does Christmas mean?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 26, 2007

What does Christmas mean to you?

That question would probably be answered in many different ways across the world. Most people would agree that whatever your definition of Christmas, we have allowed it to become a hectic holiday.

We rush and stress as the time gets closer. Many people end their lives during this time of year. That tells me that the true meaning of Christmas has been lost.

It has become more about gifts and family than about the Christ child. There is nothing wrong with gifts or family celebrations but there is a reason for the name. Read Luke, chapter 2.

The last few Christmas seasons have probably been the easiest of my life. I did a little shopping here and there. Then our family went to Petersburg for a few days and I came home with very little left to do.

We also spent time with family in that area and put flowers on my parents’ grave. Christmas Eve I cook quick and easy food. My family brings a few things.

There has been no rush and no strain. I am not worn out when we fix our plates and celebrate this time together. I think that’s how it should be.

I recently read a Christmas account of a soldier during World War II. He told of a hard journey to Calcutta India during the Christmas season. Christmas Eve found them in the freight yards of Calcutta. They had received very little food on the journey and were not allowed to leave the train to buy anything to eat.

Even worse, they had not received any mail since they left home. Late on Christmas Day, they received their holiday meal n cheese and crackers n no mail. This soldier said he lay on his bunk and thought about Christmas in the past; plenty of foods, gifts, cards, family, church.

All of that had been taken away from him and he didn’t see how he could celebrate Christmas in the conditions he was in. All at once he saw in his mind a manger scene and the real meaning of Christmas hit him. Joy and peace welled up in him as he realized that he could have Christmas in his heart no matter what his circumstances.

I saw another soldier on television that said he took a small manger scene with him when he was away from home last year. He put that up at Christmas and it helped him celebrate and remember why he celebrates Christmas.

Whatever your circumstances this year, I hope that you have not let the hurrying and stress or the aloneness ruin Christmas for you. If you have, stop now, relax and redirect your actions and thoughts. Celebrate not the circumstances of this world, but what has been given you from the one who loves you most.

May you have the best Christmas of your life!

Sylvia Hughes of Windsor is a regular contributor to the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. She can be reached by emailing sylvia.hughes@r-cnews.com.