28 December 2012

Liberia: There's More to Christmas Than Just Drinking and Eating


The telling of the Christian account is beautifully and variously narrated in the gospel accounts. Anyone who grew up in the Christian tradition has some of its simple, eloquent phrases permanently in memory. "The Baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger," then the angel announcing "good tidings of great joy."

I can't recall ever seeing "tidings" in any other context. There is the "star in the east" that lured and guided the "wise men," and the awful account of cruel Herod in fear of this "new king." As story alone, the original Christmas accounts (Luke and Matthew) are splendid in language and artfulness.

The gospel stories inspired centuries of Christian art-music, painting, sculpture and more story. But it was relatively late that the idea of Christmas as a period of semi-universal celebration, partly untethered from its religious grounding, caught on in the entire global scene.

The passing of time, and the mingling of parallel or folk customs, brought refinements, ornamentations, even severe refashioning of the original story. And of course there were the attempts of some of the great writers to put their individual stamp on the great fable.

Of those writers who have thus "added" to the Christmas canon, Charles Dickens is obviously -certainly in relatively modern times - the foremost. A Christmas Carol (1843), though not at all in its story related to Bethlehem or the Christ child, has yet found a place at the center of Christmas celebration -as a story, recitation, and in the century just past in movies, on big screen and small.

Many other writers like Alastair Sim, the version of A Christmas Carol -1951, George C. Scott's 1984 effort and Charles Dickens who created our modern conception of Christmas caught like no other the celebratory,

joyous nature of Christmas, and above all the family-centered heart of it, which has been there since the first. The cheer of Christmas, the bounty of the Christmas feast (no one writes about food about to be eaten with the relish of the great Charles Dickens - no one) the concern for the poor and feeble during this season, all of these elements Charles Dickens portrays with zest and his great sentimentality.

This is a spiritual season, as an entire genre of storytelling has been created to point out. Find your family, be generous to others, eat well and follow the traditions, but don't sweat the size of the tree.

Most of us can unite around such simple precepts, whether in the celebration of Christmas and New Year's or just a few extra days off. But life goes on, and the headlines reveal the rifts between our best intentions and our actions. With this in mind, members of The Family's Faith (Religious leaders, congregations, inter-denominational grouping should exchange ideas and convened to discuss the spirit of the season and in winning souls.

As the Christmas bells rings, if you are in the mood, open your heart and let there be passionate intervention to transform the lives of others-especially the kids who Santa should not forget putting a smile on a kid's face, spreading cheer, the kinship of humanity because giving is as joyful as receiving.

Religious or secular, I think most people take some real delight in this time of year, and I wish readers the very best of it.

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