“Tis the season” said the Google Doodle two days back. Later i read that their Doodle team would be posting a new doodle each day till New Year to wish everyone happy holidays. The festive doodles, designed as paper craft models, invoke the warmth of celebration and togetherness that so typifies this season in the western world and has now pervaded cultures across different geographies. Whether you celebrate the day or not, a spirit of goodwill seems to prevail everywhere. It is as if, to quote Norman Vincent Peale, “Christmas waves a magic wand over this world and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” Issues of exploitation, poverty, terrorism, environment and the likes suddenly seem to be put on hold as mankind dons a mantle of gratitude and goodwill.
From childhood this time of the year has been about vacations and hence ‘fun’ times. In the army environment we grew up in, it was also a time of sending out scores of cards to family and friends with that simple message, “Season’s Greetings and Best Wishes for a Happy New Year.” Lists were made, the required number of cards procured, written and posted. Then the ones received were checked to see if there were some among those whom one may have inadvertently missed out. Suitable thank-you replies were shot off and this cycle went on for a couple of weeks. In the run-up to the New Year and beyond, these cards were on display around the house on shelves and mantle-pieces and some houses would even string them up like festoons gaily announcing their treasure collected. That activity has now become obsolete with messages of greetings and wishes flying thick and fast across various forums of social media…Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter etc. Occasionally we still receive the odd greeting card from some army unit/acquaintance and it always brings in a whiff of nostalgia!
So what is the real spirit of this season? Is it just about the tinsel and decorations, about Christmas trees and gifts, about feasting and partying or is it more? What comes to my mind is always that classic story by Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol.” It is a simple tale about a mean-spirited miserly old Ebenezer Scrooge and how he learns that what matters in the end is the importance of treating one’s fellow humans with kindness, generosity and warmth and not about being avaricious and hoarding wealth. It is this warmth that comes to the hearts of men, this ability to cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy that is probably the real spirit of Christmas.
To quote Madeline Morse ~
“Let Christmas not become a thing merely of merchant’s trafficking, of tinsel, bell and holly wreath and surface pleasure. Rather beneath that childish glamour, let us find nourishment for heart and mind. Let us follow kinder ways through our teeming human maze…and thereby help the age of peace to come.”
“Peace on Earth” ~ may that spirit of this ‘season’ be with us always!
(image sourced from the web)