• 70°

Thoughts on the reason for the season

Although the winter season starts officially on Dec. 21, our thoughts today are more on the Christmas season. Both are important in our lives, but how important is the true meaning of Christmas?

“The true meaning of Christmas” is a phrase that appeared in 1889 in The American Magazine, according to historians: “to give up one’s very self – to think only of others – how to bring the greatest happiness to others – that is the true meaning of Christmas.”

Earlier in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1843), an old miser is taught the meaning by three ghostly visitors in a review of his past and a foretelling of his future.

Dickens is often quoted as writing “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”

Since 1965, many of us have heard annually “That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.” Linus was referring to the birth of Christ.

And, in attending church services at this season, we hear it from the pastor, the priest, the preacher.

Some may find fault with the early commercialization of the season by retailers and shopping malls or by the loudspeakers that blast out “Jingle Bells,” “Silver Bells,” and other seasonal music. They view these factors as overshadowing the spiritual meaning of the season.

Now, today, is a good time to remember poet Christina Rossetti’s reminder that “Love came down at Christmas, Love all lovely, Love Divine … “

A current opinion piece written by Paul Batura for Fox News brings the message home to the tri-state area and to the United States. He is an official with the organization Focus on the Family and is author of several books and a contributor to others.

Within the last few days, Batura had an opportunity to tour the White House and to see the Christmas decorations in the executive mansion. He praised the First Lady for the classic dignified style mirrored throughout the mansion.

He said “…the indisputable centerpiece of the Christmas display sits quietly in the center of the back wall of the East Room.” It is a 300-year- old creche, a carved wood and terra cotta creation from Naples, Italy, that was donated to the White House in 1987 by the widow of American businessman Charles Engelhard.

Batura closes his essay with this thought “…from the White House to my house and to millions of homes the world over, manger scenes remind us that despite all the commercial trappings of twinkling lights, music, gifts and food – a helpless baby remains, as always, the true star of the Christmas story.”

William H. Baker is a native of Claiborne County and a former resident of Middlesboro. Email:wbaker@ limestone.edu.