A little more than 2000 years ago, according to tradition, three Magi saw in the stars that a very important king would be born. Following their celestial guides, they arrived at Jesus' manger twelve days after his birth. They offered him money, expensive incense, and costly funeral spices. Earlier, poor shepherds came and paid homage. Who knows whether these shepherds and Magi truly understood that the punishment on Adam and Eve, and their decedents, banning them from the gates of Heaven was in the process of being lifted.
Today, in emulation of those events so long ago, most Christians gather their families together, pay homage by going to church, and give gifts. Most people know that Christmas giving is an expression of love; a feint echo of the loving gift of a Messiah being born on Earth. While it is true that the television focuses on retail profits and any impact on the current recession, most people don't.
There is much which can be said about the crass commercialization of Christmas. However, in a way, this commercialization has helped to spread the true spirit of Christmas. The spirit of Christmas is bigger than Madison Avenue and Wall Street.
It is remarkable how truly universal Christmas is. The world over, except in the most religiously intolerant places, most people celebrate Christmas. Even non Christians celebrate Christmas; focusing on the non religious aspects of the holiday.
Something about the holiday touches a very special part of human nature. Whether Christian or not, on Christmas, people tend to come together. Anger and grudges tend to fade, if but for a while, and light heartedness prevails. People tend to refocus on spending time with family and friends. For a while, even through the most commercial aspects of the holiday, love seems to blossom.
Manufacturers and retailers want you to purchase the latest toy or luxury item. To one degree or another, as an expression of love, we do. Thus the spirit of the holiday triumphs. Whether you are a believer or not, when with love you give and receive gifts at this winter holiday, you have participated in the true spirit of Christmas.
In the true spirit of Christmas, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!