Thursday, December 15, 2011

Some Christmas..... Please...

At some point every year I get asked the same question: “What is Christmas? What does it mean to you?” Over time I have come up with many answers, some deep and full of meaning - others a little more standard, about a time for friends and family and a time for giving and remembrance. But, there is one little story that, to me, expresses how I feel about what Christmas is or should be. Let me tell it to you.

It is the winter of 1863 and a young Lieutenant in the Union Army has been badly wounded in one of the particularly vicious and bloody battles of the American Civil War. Christmas Eve finds him lying in a hospital bed with his father sitting helplessly at his side. The father, desperately wanting to bring some small comfort and relief to his gravely wounded son turns to his only talent and writes a short poem for the boy.
The young man's pain becomes worse during the night and they are told to expect the worst shortly. In one of the boy's calmer moments, the father reads him the poem, then takes his hand and sits by his side, silently praying, waiting for the end. The sun rises Christmas morning and the boy awakes in much less pain. The fever has passed and the boy eventually recovers.

That man was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and the poem he wrote goes like this:

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought as how, the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along th' unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth, I said,
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.

This poem was later put to music and became a Christmas Carol. I found this clip of it on U-Tube. I liked it and wanted to share it with you:

Peace on earth; Good will to men” That is what I think Christmas should be all about. It is a time to renew our faith in God and in the good that comes from just being good and patient and kind.

Now, I can just hear my friends saying that I am not always good and patient and kind - and they are absolutely right. That is exactly why Christmas is so important. It is a time to be reminded and to take pause and appreciate our loved ones, our friends, the many people who work and sacrifice all year to let us live good lives (our service members come to mind here) - and a time for us to say "Thanks" by simply wishing them a "Merry Christmas".

If we can pause for one moment and remember we are all God’s children, show some small kindness to each other without regard to our differences. If we can, for one moment each year, be a little tolerant and spread a little Peace on Earth and Good Will to Men, then Christmas is, perhaps, the most important holiday we have. We have a right to be happy and celebrate it. If it is a time when families to come together and for friends to share some time with each other, then Christmas is a very, very special time.

So, to all of you I say
“Have a very Merry Christmas and God Bless Us, One and All”

1 comment:

Ted Leddy said...

A very Happy Christmas to you and your family Gary, and I am glad the surgery went well last week.