Everyone’s attention is focused on Christmas.
That’s true whether or not the holiday has great meaning for you. You can’t (and most wouldn’t want to) escape its dominance over our culture at this time of year.
I’ve noted that a lot of the Christmas music that plays incessantly seems to focus on “the meaning of Christmas.” Think about that as you hear Christmas music in the stores, on radio, and wherever you are.
It got me thinking about the considerable variety of meanings we attach to the Christmas season.
For many, it’s the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the origin of the Christian faith.
Jews celebrate Hannukah; Sikhs celebrate Diwali.
For some, it’s simply a celebration of goodness, joy, and giving.
For many, it’s primarily a time to reconnect with family and friends.
For some, it’s all about the parties and celebrations that mark the season.
For some it’s all about the festive spirit: the lights, Christmas carols, Christmas trees, decorations, Santa.
For some, it’s mostly about time off work, Christmas bonuses to spend, and escape from the boss.
It occurred to me that there seems to be a central theme that marks whatever our attributed meanings are.
And that theme is, that it is a time to pause.
It’s all about taking a break from the rest of the year. And we use that break to relax, to reflect and to reset. We step outside of our normal world for a day or a few or even a week. Then (perhaps after New Year but maybe sooner) we touch the pause button and get back on with life.
That short-term pause almost takes on sacral significance to us, irrespective of religious connotations.
Perhaps that was best demonstrated by the Christmas Truce that occurred on Christmas Eve 1914.
German and Allied forces faced each other in trenches barely 30 yards apart. German soldiers began singing Christmas carols in their trenches and setting up Christmas trees along the edges. British soldiers, it’s reported, also started singing carols.
Then a few shouts flew back and forth between them, evidently get more and more friendly, until a German soldier shouted, “Tomorrow you no shoot, we no shoot.”
Instead, on Christmas Day, the soldiers on both sides came out of their trenches into no man’s land and exchanged some gifts—cigarettes and champagne—and then a soccer ball was thrown out from the German side.
Several hundred soldiers from both sides, it’s reported, enjoyed kicking around that ball for a few hours (though it was not a formal soccer game.)
The impromptu truce ended on Boxing Day when two gunshots into the air signaled an end to the truce and the two sides resumed firing at each other.
Even the wartime cause was superseded by a Christmas pause.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, shared with your loved ones, and a Happy New year!