Christmas is such a beautiful time of year when good will abounds and mankind is truly at his best. There is so much in the world that is beautiful and stirs our souls with continuing appreciation for all we have been given. However, there is also sorrow and hardship. Brave and loving parents shield their children from the worries of life. They will likely never know until they are much older the pressures and heavy responsibilities their parents quietly carried within as they brought their family together to share in all the joyful and tender feelings of the Christmas season.
Charles Dickens said, “It’s good to be children sometimes and never better than at Christmas when its Mighty Founder was a child himself.” The sweet and wonderful blend of purity, innocence, faith, hope, trust and anxious anticipation are all wrapped up and evident for all to see in a child’s Christmas. Looking back, we fondly recall and may long for those cherished memories from our youth. As the poet Elizabeth Akers Allen wrote:
“Backward, turn backward, O time, in your flight,
Make me a child again just for tonight!”
Another poet, however, wisely replied:
“Backwards? Nay, onward, ye swift rolling years!
Gird on thy armour, keep back thy tears.
Count not thy trials nor efforts in vain,
They’ll bring thee the light of thy childhood again.”
As we grow and mature, our hearts are softened and our eyes are opened. We do not ask, “Am I my brother’s keeper” or “Who is my neighbor?” Ours becomes a much more “grown-up Christmas list” than when we were little and “visions of sugar-plums danced in [our] heads.” As the true message and meaning of Christmas settles in our hearts and minds and with the Savior’s birth, life and atoning sacrifice as our shining and guiding star, we can retain the spirit of Christmas all year long. That is the great hope of peace on earth and good will towards men. Wise men and women strive to see the world and all mankind as God sees them by looking upon the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). We dream of:
“No more lives torn apart,
That wars would never start,
And time would heal all hearts,
And everyone would have a friend,
And right would always win,
And love would never end,
This is my grown-up Christmas list.”
This Christmas, it is my sincere desire that every home and family may have the hope and firm assurance that the future for them will be as bright and as promising as the star that the shepherds saw and followed to the manger so long ago. That heavenly gift to all God’s children is eternal. Thus, I find strength in the knowledge that even though we do not know what the future holds, we know who holds the future. In our own way and as daily opportunities arise for each of us, we strive to do good and be instruments of mercy, kindness and giving whenever and wherever possible. That is the Christmas spirit that lasts all year long. The true message and meaning of Christmas is not about who comes down the chimney but rather who came down from heaven and who will come again as King of Kings and Lord of Lords and “wipe away all tears” and “there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Romans 8:14-17; Revelations 21:4).
I have attached a favorite poem by Edgar Guest, which captures the Christmas spirit of both giving and “taking” (comforting and healing). Thank you for all the good you do. We send our sincere best wishes this Christmas and always.
At Christmas Bit
Edgar A. Guest
If I were Santa Claus this year
I’d change his methods for the day;
I’d give to all the children here
But there are things I’d take away.
I’d enter into every home to steal,
With giving I’d not be content.
I’d find the heart-aches men conceal
And take them with me when I went.
I’d rob the invalid of pain;
I’d steal the poor man’s weight of care;
I’d take the prisoner’s ball and chain
And every crime which sent him there.
I’d take the mother’s fears away,
The doubts which often fret the wise –
And all should wake on Christmas Day
With happy hearts and shining eyes.
For old and young this is my prayer;
God bless us all this Christmas Day
And give us strength our tasks to bear,
And take our bitter griefs away!
From the LaVar and Sue
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