Meaning Given Jesus Defines One’s View of Christmas
By Robert Docter –
So what is Christmas to you-humbug or hallelujah?
Are you in the Scrooge mood or do you continue to find joy in the season-no matter what?
This is an extremely busy time of the year for everyone, but especially for Army people as tremendous pressures come from all sides, heights, depths external and internal. It’s easy to develop a “humbug” mentality. Everyone moves out of an existing status quo system into something completely different. Job assignments change, time is distributed differently, roles are modified, activity escalates. The entire culture makes a paradigm shift from the music in our ears to the message on the tube. And with the changing culture comes increased pressure.
In the Army, the pressures often stem from the necessity to organize and implement fund raising efforts designed to help “deliver the goods” to needy people-from actually exerting the effort and energy required to accomplish the delivery-from relating to people whose own pressures, needs and problems seem only to escalate during the season-from recognizing the importance of communicating the spiritual meaning of this advent season-from dealing with one’s own exhaustion.
For all of us, falling into the “humbug” trap does have consequence. It is the harbinger of depression, of cynicism, of selfishness, of negativity, of guilt, of self doubt, of poor and confusing relationships.
Some undoubtedly try to escape the “humbug” trap with what might be termed pseudojoy. There is a pretense of Christmas spirit on the surface, but there is no depth. The demands of the system change seem to forbid escape from “humbugitus.”
Christmas becomes “hallelujah” as we reframe the experience. When we change the frame from “extremely hard work” to “magnificent opportunities” the “hallelujah” rings forth in a genuine manner. When the kettle work effort turns from “money raising” to “money giving,” when the gift purchasing turns from obligation to love, when simplicity takes precedence over excess, we view Christmas from a different perspective.
A grinning “hallelujah” floats across the landscape when we do the unexpected good deed- when we discover needs and hoped-for presents for others through subtleties of positive communication, effective perception and good listening instead of hurried lists furnished on demand-when with simple words and gentle touches and warm embraces we communicate the power of our affection-when everything about us, our words, our actions, our behavior, our feelings sends a congruent message of genuine, positive regard.
Hallelujah comes to the degree we remember that the celebration of Christ’s mass is a spiritual journey into the depth of God’s love for humanity. When we recognize that Christmas is “God with us” the hallelujahs bubble forth like warm steam from a hot tub on a cold day-friendly, genuine, and with an air of positive expectancy.