Finding the spirit of peace, joy, and goodwill

For behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which shall be to all people… and on earth peace, goodwill toward men. That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown!”

—from the TV show, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

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“What’s the point,” someone asked last week? “I just can’t feel it this year. It’s hard to get excited about Christmas with all that’s going on.”

It does seem challenging to get excited about it this year; and understandably so. We’re just about done, in more ways than one, with arguably the ugliest year ever and “good riddance” to 2020 next week. I’m siding with my friend in Center, Tim Perkins. He admitted that his style for years has been assuming that the new year would arrive just fine if he went on to bed before midnight. This year, he says he is staying up, not to welcome 2021, but to make sure 2020 is gone. 

This year has left us reeling from an incomprehensible chain of calamities and praying that next year will be better. Yet, there’s little on the radar to ensure that will be the case. We are still trying to figure out many things, including a CCP rogue virus, businesses burdened with government restrictions wrecking the economy, and a social revolution to name a few. Oh, and a presidential election we may never figure out.

So how do we get into the Christmas spirit of peace, joy, and goodwill with what’s staring us in the face? I suggest focusing on the things that represent the most festive season of the year to us. Mine is the same thing it has been for many years: Christmas through the eyes of a child. 

As a child, Christmas meant family gatherings shared with good food, exchanging gifts, and my favorite part—decorating Christmas trees. Even today, the glow of Christmas tree lights late at night when no other light in the house is on works pure magic for me. It reminds me of a time celebrated in the 1963 song by Edward Pola and George Wyle, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” 

Memories like the dawn of a Christmas day hearing, Leslie, my sister whispering in my bedroom doorway, “You think he’s come yet?” 

“I don’t know,” I answered, noticing that our youngest sibling, Sylvia, was right behind her in the shadows. “Let’s take a peek and see.” Slowly opening the door into the living room, we saw the magic of changing colors on a shiny aluminum Christmas tree surrounded by gifts that were not there the night before. “I think Santa made it,” I said.

When I had children years later, that feeling was manifested by watching them at Christmas and enjoying their anticipation of the magical season. Like the one Christmas past living in the Hill Country outside San Antonio when I announced, “Valentine’s Day is next week, guess we better take the tree down.” 

Putting up a tree later than some is par for me. So is leaving it up until Valentine’s Day is approaching. Daughter Robin’s counter that year was, “Let’s just decorate it with hearts and have a Valentine’s Day tree.” That worked so well that we also had an Easter tree with eggs, an Independence Day tree with flags, and a … well, we celebrated several holidays that year in a Christmassy sort of way.

And why not. Christmas is whatever we make of it. It’s a religious holiday to some, a cultural and commercial extravaganza to others, and both or something else entirely to the rest.

Whatever Christmas is to you, everything is better with love. How else will we ever hope to achieve joy, peace, and goodwill toward men if not through love for each other? The best path to love I’ve found is I John 4:8, in the Bible, “… God is love.” Some celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ and Easter as His death, burial, and resurrection. I like to think that Christ and His purpose for coming is something we should celebrate with the same spirit and zeal every day of the year.

For this day and every day, Merry Christmas and best wishes for a Charlie Brown Christmas of love, family, and shiny Christmas trees through the eyes of a child. You know, that might also go a long way toward fixing those 2020 calamities we are still trying to figure out.

—Leon Aldridge

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Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune,  the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, and the Alpine Avalanche.

© Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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