This Christmas, the very best gift of all will be my being able to count my blessings in a multitude of varying fashions. As we endure a season of economic repression, our traditionally bountiful holiday season has cultivated the remnants of manger scenes in chain department stores and Christmas trees in schools. By refining this year’s Christmas celebrations to appeal less toward material things and more toward reawakening the virtues faith and family, we will once again find ourselves remembering the true joy and meaning of Christmas.
Jesus Christ can easily be considered the top blessing this world has ever come to receive. The combination of his extraordinary birth, life and death freed many a believer from the troublesome burdens of sin—past, present, and for years to come. Living in today’s age is difficult enough as it is, and without Christ’s gift of forgiveness, times like these would be ever so be tremendously impossible to maneuver through. Moreover, Christ has graciously been given to this world to free us from all of our very worst transgressions. Among these includes our obsession with possessions and worldly objects, a fixation we find ourselves entangled in many times despite the apostle John’s clear precautions.
Somewhere along the history of mankind’s technological advances and Hollywood appetite, Christmas has transformed into much more than a mere religious celebratory holiday. It has morphed into being about gifts and gadgets as opposed to faith and family. Christmas dismally had lost its real meaning once we became enamored with the idea of receiving presents. As the day became more about giving and receiving the perfect present and considering our blessings based upon the caliber of our material possessions, it warped into a season of stress in both a financial and emotional fashion. In lieu of humanity’s frequency to disappoint, billions of people around the world experience more strain and loneliness “celebrating” Christmas more so than any other celebrated holiday. How sad is it that we have taken the greatest gift this world has been so fortunate to receive and let it consume and enervate us toward a path of destruction? Ironically, the very same capitalistic nature of man that has afforded introduced humanity some of the greatest innovations and opportunities has an indiscernible characteristic to seize opportunity and monetize even within the religious community.
Whilst the birth of Christ occurred during a time of economic turmoil, Mary and Joseph faced many of the same exact problems that so many Americans are presented with to this day. Uncertainty and problematic housing, travel and work situations were the cause for fear and frustration then and more so now than ever. Many of today’s amenities were quite plainly nonexistent, allowing for a maintaining of a direct focus on their faith uninterrupted by unnecessary frenzies.
Not only are millions of Americans burdened with foreclosure, facing employment termination and fretful for the future, but many are also dealing with actual health illnesses such as diabetes, breast cancer and other forms of cancer, heart disease and depression, to name a few. Depression appears to be most prevalent this time of year, as many suffer from loneliness, mourning loved ones or feeling remorseful because they cannot afford to buy the idolized gifts so desired by their families. Whatever your situation is this holiday season, please remember we mustn’t take tomorrow for granted and bear in mind to be thankful for what blessings we do have.
As Dec. 25 draws near, what we consider to be troubles may very well be the exact things needed for us to refocus on the real purpose of Christmas. Without the expectations and burden of giving the latest and greatest toys to our friends and family, we are free to offer our hearts—whether that means giving a handmade gift or a cup of coffee or offering some sort of service. This might even entail reaching out to someone we’ve previously lost touch with, forgiving a foe or lending a hand to someone in dire need. Whatever the case may be, I guarantee that a gift given from the heart will be more fruitful for you and more valuable for them.
As I begin to accept that Christmas in America will never be solely about celebrating the life and times of Jesus, our goal needs to be that we retain a firm focus on Him. And this year, as we face less money in our pocketbooks and more debt on our credit cards than ever, our Christmas should theoretically be filled with more blessings than ever before. In order for this come to fruition, we need to embrace the simple truths of Christmas and use this toned-down holiday season to discern what is truly most important in our lives. In the absence of emblematic seasonal pastimes, we can honestly do what we’ve always secretly wanted to do: forget about the glamour of the day’s celebrations and focus on its divinity. In doing so, we unleash the freedom of forgiveness that accompanies Jesus Christ’s birth and death. Then, and only then, we will begin to truly understand and embrace the true purpose of Christmas.
Armstrong Williams is the author of the brand-new book “Reawakening Virtues.” Join him from 4-5 p.m. EST at www.livestream.com/armstrongwilliams, or tune in at 4-5 p.m. EST on S.C. WGCV, Sirius/XM Power 128, 6-7 p.m. and 5-6 a.m. EST. Become a fan on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.