The heart of Christmas

 Cue ALL the decorations and loud music. | PC: Sally Becker

Cue ALL the decorations and loud music. | PC: Sally Becker

Following the Call

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style,

In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas.

Children laughing, people passing; meeting smile after smile,

And on every street corner you hear

Silver bells.

Christmas!

You’ve just aced your last final and are now on your way to the airport with the ride you arranged three weeks ago (well, yesterday). There’s a nip in the air and the TSA agent is strangely chipper—it’s like they’re actually happy to see you.

The plane taxis down the runway. As it takes off, all of your books, tests and homework fall out the back of your mind, to be promptly replaced by holiday lattes, colorful light displays, snowflakes and Christmas cookies. “Jingle Bells” drifts in and out of your mind.

Dragging your suitcases behind you (packing for three weeks, remember?), you open the door to home, sweet home. Letting out a sigh of happiness, you step inside...only to be met by squabbling siblings, a TV dinner and the dog chewing on the head of your favorite Santa statue.

Merry Christmas.

In our minds, Christmas is beautiful. Holiday music surrounds us while we decorate the house and tree, laughing and joking. Snuggling in blankets and cats on the couch, we watch Christmas movies and drink steaming hot cocoa with marshmallows. At Christmas dinner, the extended family mingles happily while Uncle slices the perfectly-cooked tur ... veggie-turkey … and the younger kids play nicely in the back room.

Too bad things never work out that way.

More often than not, the holidays seem to go a little more like this: Dad works late and Mom’s always off Christmas shopping. The tree takes forever to put up, someone breaks our favorite ornament and half the strand of lights is out.

The cookies look like they’ve been decorated by a second-grader.

When we drive around to see the Christmas lights, we can’t find any. Traffic is horrible, shoppers are rude and we can’t find the gifts we need. When we finally have time to collapse on the couch, the wrong Christmas movie is on. The cat hisses when we reach for her.

Bah humbug.

Maybe, just maybe, our focus is misplaced. In all of holiday doings, we’ve forgotten about one of the most important parts of Christmas—other people.

What do you think it is that the people who haven’t seen you for six months want most? Here’s a hint: it’s probably not more stuff. Sure, they might appreciate a new iPad. Yes, a new golf club would be nice. But more than that, they’d probably just like to spend time with you.

Look back up at that list where Christmas was beautiful. Do you notice anything?

We. We. We.

Think about what the holidays would be like if you were completely alone. No one to shop for. No one to shop with. No one to help with the tree. No one to go look at lights with. No one to giggle and sigh through Christmas movies with. No one to share Christmas dinner.

Retail would have you believe that care equals buying, but it’s not the truth. Your time is the most precious gift you can give.

Jesus was born here on Earth for this very reason. He came to show His love through being here. He paused in His journey to listen and heal. He gave up what He thought was important for multitudes that were hungering. It’s what Christmas is all about.

The holidays won’t be perfect. Cookies will burn. We’ll miss our favorite movie. People will have arguments. The cat will climb the Christmas tree.

If we think about others, however, the good times will jump out. Sharing cookie batter. Having fun making a mess with frosting. Snuggling up for a new favorite movie. Forgiving, forgetting, and playing that crazy Christmas game everyone loves. Who needs to go shopping again or make the gift wrap perfect? It won’t really matter after the 25th anyway.

Walking in Jesus’ footsteps, we might just find what we’re looking for.


Ginger Hany is a senior studying biomedical science.