The modern view toward Christmas

December 6, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Doug Skeates

“To them that hath shall be given.”

Taken out of context, this expression appears to be appropriate to the more modern view attitude toward the Christmas Season. 

This time of year has become an annual holiday (instead of a Holy Day) when the major activity is one of giving gifts, a commercial theme. 

On a shopping trip to a local plaza it was noted that a crèche scene had been inserted on one of the toy shelves.  Comments were overheard as two shoppers passed by.  “Those religious fanatics!  Sticking their noses in where they don’t belong.”

Commonly at this time of year, many in the commercial world have chosen to replace the standard greeting, ‘Merry Christmas’, with the less religiously oriented expression, ‘Happy Holiday’.  Presum-ably  this is considered to be more encompassing, hence encouraging more consumers to buy their products.

Our family have put the two aspects together, celebrating both the spiritual and holiday aspects.  Anne and I have added another two additional meaningful components to our season, including global projects to our Christmas gift list. 

Each of us has selected a cause from a publication, ‘Gifts with Vision’, related to our specific experiences and goals in life.

I as a forester was drawn to a tree planting project in Jerusalem,  “Plant an Olive Tree”.  Many years ago on a tour in Jordan the local driver, a Palestinian, pointed out a grove of Olive trees where Moses was purported to have struck a rock with his cane resulting in a spring gushing forth. 

A gift of an Olive tree to be planted on Israeli occupied lands, a project of the Palestinian YMCA and YWCA, is an opportunity to contribute a personal voice to what I consider to have been a travesty of  justice.  Planting  a tree is one small step toward helping to solve an environmental disaster.  Each established tree takes carbon from the atmosphere by photosynthesis every growing season, storing it as wood in the form of an annual ring.

Anne worked toward bettering life for local women in our years living in Kenya.  Promoting the establishment of a well in a local village would eliminate the daily task of walking several miles to collect and carry water back to supply family needs.

On the Simcoe County scene, a high priority has been the operation of an abused women’s shelter, helping abused women and children to build new lives for themselves. 

One published project abroad having a great deal of appeal to Anne is  “Farming for a Future”.  Three women’s groups in western Kenya have joined together to form a highly successful farming cooperative with support of the Organization of African Instituted Churches.  The gift of a bull calf to be fattened and sold helps families buy agricultural seeds, the profits to be used to strengthen the community.

The Christmas season has a different meaning for each individual.  This is a time for humanitarian feeling for many. Non governmental agencies, ‘Care of Canada, Save the Children Fund, UNICEF, Red Cross’, etc., note that contributions towards their various purposes are at their highest at this time of year.  Thousands of people are motivated to help better conditions for others around the world.

On the local scene great efforts are made to brighten the season for families unable to provide the feeling of the holy season.  In each community organizations have made an effort to ensure that at least Christmas has meaning for all.  Particularly, places of worship of every denomination have made plans for Christmas baskets to be delivered with clothes and gifts appropriate to each family member making it a more memorable occasion. This is especially appropriate for refugees who have lost their homes and been forced to leave everything behind to search for a new life.

A common question frequently heard is, “what can I possibly give to uncle Bill who has everything?”  This is also a time to share what one has with even a few of the many having next to nothing.   

Canadians have so much to be thankful for in this world of turmoil. The season is one of providing meaningful gifts of hope and love  for relatives, friends and neighbours here and abroad.

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