So this is Christmas?

“Come, they told me
A new born King to see.”

I have not been a real fan of Christmas for a long time. I think that people have now just accepted that each person has their own reasons to celebrate. For some, “Jesus is the reason for the season,” while for others it’s about the winter solstice and for a lot of people it’s about getting the latest contraption or that wicked new sex toy adapter to the Nintendo Wii (which will be renamed ooooWIII!)

“Our finest gifts we bring,
To lay before the king.”

I have great memories of the holiday season when I was a child. It was as I grew older I began to realize the level of dysfunction in my family and how it changed my experience and eventually my memories. One day I decided to take a vacation from my feelings and stopped Christmas in it’s tracks.

“Little baby,
I am a poor boy too.
I have no gift to bring
That’s fit to give the King.”

I found myself sliding into the negative thinking and cynicism and would decry the holiday for anyone wanting to spread good will. Again I was taking a vacation from my feelings and felt that others should see it my way.

I was wrong.

Years ago, during my first Christmas away from my family I was working on the Adventure of the Seas. I didn’t know it then, but a very healthy majority of people who cruise during that week do not celebrate Christmas. I thought , “perfect!” it would make it all the more easier to distance myself from the old memories of the past which I wanted to bury.

“Shall I play for you?
On my drum?”

Lo and behold I found myself working at the shore excursion desk very early on Christmas morning and this older woman came to the desk and she said “Is this your first Christmas away from home?” I told her that it was my first Christmas away from my family. She gave me a hug and wished me a Merry Christmas and I started to cry. I had realized how much of an impact it was on me to not be around the people I loved during the season.

Christmas 2003 we welcomed impoverished children from Cozumel Mexico when I was working on the Enchantment of the Seas. I spent some time chatting with each of the little kids in Spanish and many of them asked me if I too was Mexican. After we met with them the Cruise Director came out dressed as Santa Clause and all of the little children went crazy! They were so happy to receive their gifts and some of them even performed a song in sign language for us. I sat at the back of the theater, tears filling my eyes.I began to realize that my vacation from Christmas couldn’t last much longer.

I was wrong.

I went back in my pit of cynicism and self loathing and stayed there until a few years. I went to the website and printed the poster which boldly declared “WAR IS OVER: if you want it” and I realized that my vacation was over. I had redefined what Christmas meant for me. I spent a week or so putting up those posters on light posts in and around busier intersections in Kamloops and you know I felt so good doing it.

“Mary nodded,
The ox and lamb kept time.”

I realized that for myself Christmas was about spreading goodwill to everyone, not just your family and friends, but the strangers who feel the way I felt for so many years. The people who look sad in the store lines because thy are thinking “Can I afford this?”

The husband who lost his job and isn’t sure he can provide for his family anymore.

The single parent who is struggling to give their kids gifts, even though they live in poverty.

The elderly people you see everyday sitting at the same café alone with their thoughts.

“I played my drum for Him,
I played my best for Him.
Then He smiled at me,
Me and my drum.”

The Christmas carol “The Little Drummer Boy” has always been one of my most favourite songs this time of year. It always touched my heart because I felt, much like him, that I have no gifts to give. I was stuck in my old thinking patterns of Christmas only being about greed. Now I know that even the smallest gesture of kindness can be a welcome gift anyone in pain can receive.

It’s certainly the best gift I’ve ever given.

Merry Christmas everyone.

I hope you reflect and find your reason for the season.


One thought on “So this is Christmas?

  1. Yes Virginia , Endorphins can reduce pain . Let Pavlov be your guide and condition yourself to practise more than random acts of kindness , #IdleNoMore for all the non -christians .

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