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Just Jack: 'Tis the season to be jolly? Make it so
Black Friday — that wonderful all day experience of excess and possessiveness — is now behind us and we concentrate on the real meaning of the season. We can all work to understand how we can best participate in the joy and good tidings part.
Not everyone gets to enjoy the season of giving. Even without the new negative economic pressures on some families this year, there is a certain segment of our community that will see little to be joyful about. We know they are out there and we collectively are sympathetic with their plight but few of us take the extra effort to really help. It’s not that we don’t care; we just don’t know how.
Service clubs and other community service agents are trying to help. Silverdale Rotary club is out ringing the bell for Salvation Army and sponsoring some 50 kids in the Christmas Angels program. As individuals, many of us have donated to Toys for Tots, the various local food banks, and a number of other charitable efforts. One common factor in our donations is that, for the most part, they represent funds available after we have taken care of our own. After all, does not charity begin at home? How about for those who have no home?
Maybe there is a better way. What if we made a personal resolution that the very first gift we purchased this year was for someone we don’t know other than through their need? What if, before we bought the first thing for our own Christmas dinner, we bought a significant food donation for the food bank to ensure those less fortunate would be fed? What if before we spent more money on more high tech decorations for our homes we provided sheets, blankets, and towels for the homeless shelters of the county and for other points of refuge for those in need. How about instead of one more sweater for mom and dad we gave a person who really needs one a new winter coat? How about we extend the concept of “It’s better to give than to receive,” to mean giving to people in need? How about we start a new policy of limited personal materialism and share some of our individual good fortune with those who really could use a bit of it? Try it, you might like it. Who knows, we might even find we can live without more toys and that we really do gain significant enjoyment in helping others. What a concept.
One other thing we can do is recognize the reason for the season and stop acting embarrassed when someone wishes us Merry Christmas. After all, that is the reason we are celebrating in the first place. It may be politically incorrect to extend wishes of the season but let’s do it anyway. If we have no trouble with St. Valentine’s Day or Saint Patrick’s Day why should we be troubled with Christmas? Somehow “happy holidays” just does not carry the real meaning we should intend. Fear not, the individuals offering the greeting are not attempting to convert you to some strange religious sect. “Merry Christmas” is an easy and great way to express the common joy we should all feel. A good response is “And to you also” or simply “Merry Christmas.” If you are not a practicing Christian perhaps a simple “Thank you for your greetings” or even better, “May you find joy in your celebration”.” There is no need to try to out flank the well wisher with a “Happy HanuKkah” or some secular or quasi-religious greeting. Christmas is a Christian celebration. There is no logical reason to avoid that fact or to act as if we were offending someone by our celebration. Christ was not politically correct and there is certainly no reason any of his followers need be. And with that — have a very Merry Christmas and please remember those in need.