Holy days

Dear Editor:I read a survey in another local paper where a man said he did not celebrate Christmas because it was too commercial and was just for children. This made me sad. Yes, it has been "commercialized". But there is nothing commercial about the original story: an infant Redeemer, born in humble circumstances into a nation under cruel oppression, a story of Love reaching down to the place where many then, as now, lie in despair and grief. I was blessed with a happy childhood: I have warm memories, still evoked by pine scent and crisp dark nights, of choosing a tree with Dad, while carols played from downtown speakers. We told the ageless Nativity story in my public elementary school program in verse, song, and acting. We read it at home and in church. I remember many lovely things about the season: homemade cinnamon rolls, holly berries, tree lights glowing in the dark. I remember Mom hiding mysterious gifts and getting exciting packages in the mail. Yet, thanks to a wise great-aunt, one of the best things was taking the money she sent me and going with dad to choose a present for my mother. Being able to give was priceless! When I married and had three precious children, we tried to pass on these kinds of memories to them, and later to grandchildren. Like everyone, my parents had their heartaches and trials, yet somehow they always brought out the joy in life, the reasons for praising our wonderful Creator and Keeper. Years later, as a mother, I had to go to work (the Carter era had the same terrible economy with disastrous management as this one), but things were still difficult financially. My little daughter gave me one of the most unforgettable gifts I've ever received. She wrote me a tiny note, saying that she did not care if they received a lot of presents, she was just glad that I had Christmas Day off to be with them. Yes, Christmas is for children, because, if you teach them right, they really "get" it. But Christmas is for the rest of us, too. We need to see it with the eyes of a child. These last few years have been hard for my family in many ways. They have been hard for multitudes of people. Like the song from the movie "Shrek," we may still be praising God, but there are moments when it seems "a cold and a broken Hallelujah." We grieve for family problems, suffer physical pain, stress out about finances, wonder how many more freedoms we will lose, gaze in horror at the violence and obscenity around us, and wonder what will happen tomorrow. But let's put the "Holy" (set apart) back in the "holi-days". Let's remember who kept the temple oil burning eight days in triumph after the despair of the desecration. Let's remember Light bursting into Bethlehem, amid a world cursed by decadence, violence, corruption, heavy taxation, and abuse of power. Sometimes this season we may have moments of genuine joy. Some of us may be too low or too numb to feel much joy. But let's choose to celebrate the giver of joy, the one who sustains us through these trials, even if our praise sometimes feels "broken". Let's ask Him to help us keep alight one tiny flame of praise, to pass on one small smile, or word, or loving act, in gratitude for all He has given us and, let's teach this to our children, so they too can learn what it means to call something "Holy", set-apart, and not be ashamed to say so. Happy "Holy-Days" to all of you in this city. May you and I find a quiet moment to meditate on our blessings, and the One who blesses. Glory Derryberry Downey

********** Published: December 13, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 35