Among all the commercialism, what happened to the true meaning of Christmas?
Yes, this is something most of us are all guilty of—both the shoppers and the retailers. The days of hand-made gifts and quiet family celebrations may be gone— but the spirit and meaning of Christmas can linger on for generations to come.
Churches still fill up on Christmas Eve as we are reminded of the story of the birth of Christ. But even those who don’t believe, can keep the meaning of Christmas alive—as it was intended to be. Christmas has become a harried time of shopping, though many people do all their shopping on line to avoid the lines, traffic and crowds—and people know how to use the web to search for the best deals. The wise men bringing gifts has turned into parents who buy 10 to 100 gifts, some of whom were criticized on social media after a parent showed off the 100+ gifts they purchased for their children.
But it is also a time to celebrate friends and family— a time for charity to be at an all-time high for those less fortunate. We filled the back of a Toyota Tundra in the Jaffarian showroom with clothes, diapers, hats and mittens for local homeless children helped by the Emmaus House in Haverhill. Quite a few customers and those who read about our efforts in social media went out of their way to make a donation. That to me is how we can keep the meaning of Christmas alive in our own hearts and in helping others in need.
As far back as 1889, American Magazine published the true meaning of Christmas as “to give up one’s very self — to think only of others — how to bring the greatest happiness to others — that is the true meaning of Christmas.” As simple, yet profound as this is, people lose the true meaning in the hustle and bustle.
We can all do our part to keep the true meaning of Christmas alive in various ways. There are thousands of worthwhile charities locally and throughout the U.S. The reality is there is so much need and we have an opportunity to give of ourselves – not just in the form of money but in the form of time, sharing talent and compassion. It’s a great time to think of supporting the USO or other organizations that supports veterans. If you are an animal lover, there are nearly 300 high-rated animal charities and hundreds of shelters that need support. If you have thought about a cat or dog for your family, consider a shelter pet that will be so grateful, and will give back the love you give them. Perhaps you can encourage your company and co-workers to support a local worthwhile charity or volunteer their time. These efforts epitomize the spirit of Christmas and can be done throughout the year.
If you have children, this is a time to involve them in charitable giving. Many children have successfully raised money for charity and learn from their parents about the spirit of giving. This is another gift you can give your children—the compassion of giving to those in need, perhaps even giving up one of their gifts to a needy child.
That is the true spirit of Christmas to me – what we can do for others, our family and friends – at a time when the world needs all of the peace and love it can give.
May you and your family, members of the community and citizens of our country, find the find peace, prosperity, love and friendship at a time when we need it most. Wishing you a happy and safe holiday celebration, whether you celebrate Hannukah (held earlier in the month), Christmas or Kwanzaa (from December 26 to January 1) from the Jaffarian Family to yours.