A couple of weeks ago I was in WalMart searching for a cannister of sugarless lemonade mix–their own brand–quite tasty, and a dollar or so cheaper than Crystallite. I knew I was looking in the place where it usually is, but couldn’t locate it, so finally I asked a clerk.
“Oh, it’s up front. Halloween stuff moves in tomorrow.” And now, couple weeks later, store shelves are bulging with friendly ghosts, ugly monsters and trick or treat buckets. And pressing right in there to claim a spot among the fall doings are ruffled-tailed Thanksgiving turkeys, cardboard pilgrims, and Be Thankful notices.
So, I’ve grabbed a fist full of courage, and I’m plunging right ahead this morning…to call for Christmas. Oh, I’m not wanting you to trudge steep stairs to your dusty attic for the carefully boxed ornaments, nor am I asking that you drag out the plastic tree leaning in the far garage corner. Don’t dig out holiday CDs, your authentic flashing Bethlehem star, or Rudolph. No, the part of Christmas I’m calling for in these early days of October is its spirit, its distinct joyful addition to the year–the Spirit of Christmas. The spirit that softens hardened old people, that fingers the hearts of Scrooges around the world, that fastens a thin glitter onto weary eyes, that sparks hope where only before had been the fading grey embers of the disillusioned.
Remember the Christmas Spirit? Seen it around lately? Felt its warm surge in your chest? Recently noticed its tingling excitement or addictive euphoria?
Ah, the Christmas Spirit–that distillation of good will that says aloud Merry Christmas to a stranger in the mall, that grins the mouth, that invades the fire department where turkeys and gifts are gathered and carried on the quiet to the Projects and to the shanties at the corner of the wrong side of town. That writes large checks, and bakes cookies for the neighbors, and transforms our world for a day or a week, so that peace and generosity are exceedingly more than words stamped on a paper page or etched onto an electronic screen. The Christmas Spirit…that animated magical time when a bathrobe on a boy produces a startled shepherd and glitter sprinkled on a paper wing yields an angelic messenger.
The Christmas Spirit…that time when around the world the Bible is opened, and rising to the heavens is heard in many languages, nuances, and tones the beautiful words of Luke as he writes in chapter 2.
“…And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn…and the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people…for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord…and suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising god, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
Can’t we have Christmas now?