Christmas can bring out the best in people and in communities. Here are pictures of the holidays from around the country, (click on the arrow to see the slide show) and a Christmas story from northwest Missouri.">
One thing for sure, the commercialization of Christmas can cheapen one of the best things that happen all year. But as bad as it can get, there are still good things about the Christmas season.
That’s because the whole point behind getting, is giving.
We tend to focus on the self interest that seems to pervade holiday advertising and merchandising, so that we are temporarily blinded to the good that takes place all around us. Things like the Salvation Army bell ringers, just over the hill in Rock Port, who voluntarily stand on the street, ringing the bell to remind us of the needs of others.
Or the Ministerial Alliance, made up of the pastors of all the churches in town, who collect donations to help distressed members of the community, or stranded travelers in need of a place to sleep, food, or money for gas or repairs.
And the adopt-a-family program in the county, that lets one family anonymously adopt another family for Christmas. Donors pick a family whose name they never know, and provide gifts, clothes, and food to make a Merry Christmas for those who have little. Sometimes local businesses or churches throw in a ham or turkey.
I’ve gotten to know this place pretty well over the last 57 years, and I know that for the kind acts I hear about, there are at least ten that I don’t even suspect. That’s what I call the “365 Day Country Christmas Spirit” we have here around Langdon, and all across rural America.
When you think about it, giving gifts is symbolic of the whole idea behind Christianity. God gave His Son to the world, and His Son gave His life for all of us. Today some of us give gifts because giving makes us feel good about ourselves by honoring a longstanding Christian tradition, while others of us get to experience the warm revelation of another’s kindness.
Even those who don’t share our Christian beliefs understand and appreciate both sides of generosity.
The symbolism of Christmas is plain to see as we share it with family, friends, or total strangers. It brings out the best in those of us who celebrate it with love in our hearts and, for a time, we are reminded that the very best “˜Gifts’ of the season don’t come wrapped in pretty paper and ribbons.