It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas time is upon is, and as the day itself draws nearer, we realize that this Christmas seems to have come up faster than normal. Surely I am not the only one to notice, but this Christmas season has rushed upon us at an abnormal speed. It seems only yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving, but lo and behold, houses are aglow with lights, the Christmas tree lots are nearly empty, and overplayed Christmas songs haunt us every time the radio is turned on.
The ironic thing I find about Christmas is what a polarizing nature this holiday can have. (No pun intended…okay, maybe it is intended.) The holiday season brings out both the best and worst in people. It is both the most wonderful time of the year and the worst. It is a time of giving and generosity, yet also a time where American consumerism and materialism is most blatant. It is a time to gather with friends and family, but for some the absence of such companions can bring the opposite of Christmas spirit. A time of friendship, yet also a time of loneliness. Christmas in America has become dual-natured.
There are two stories this Christmas season that I believe best illustrate this paradoxical nature of the season: Black Friday, and a touching act of generosity by the Houston Texans football team. Black Friday is often considered one of the kickoffs to the holiday season, as a day of sales across the country, many head out to stores to get a head start on their Christmas shopping and hopefully save some cash. However, Black Friday has become a circuslike event at times, as uncontrollable mobs storm stores at midnight openings, clawing and crawling over each other in a fight for the best sales. Fatalities and injuries have become tragically commonplace, with individuals trampled, and this year a woman, frustrated with jostling in line, actually began pepper-spraying other customers hoping to purchase an Xbox 360. To think that violence for video games has become normal in a country where we already have more material goods and wealth than many countries could even dream of is saddening. Many children are learning to view Christmas not as a season of memories made with friends and family, but simply as an opportunity to get “stuff.”
Thankfully, though, the rampant greed evidenced by Black Friday incidents does not seem to be the common way to view the holiday season. The Houston Texans, along with Operation Finally Home, remind us all that the true spirit of Christmas, a spirit of kindness and giving, lives on. Roughly a month ago, Marine Scott Wood died of wounds he suffered while fighting in Iraq. A die-hard Texans fan, Wood had left behind a widow, Sara, and a five year old son who were forced to live with her parents. The NFL team and charity invited the two to attend a football game, where they informed Sara they would honor Scott’s memory and gift their son Landon with a new bicycle. When the pair arrived for the game and the half-time recognition, however, they received something far greater than just a gift for Landon: they were told they would be receiving a custom-built home in Alvin, Texas. Sara was overwhelmed with joy at the generosity: she will even be able to have input on the design of the home as construction has not yet started.
Yes, this is what Christmas is all about: Sara and Landon will be spending this Christmas without their husband and father for the first time, no doubt a challenging and sorrowful time for them both, but both the Texans organization and Operation Finally Home, in an outstanding act of kindness, have financed a new home for them both. We may bemoan the commercialization of Christmas, but thanks to acts of generosity and love such as this, I know that the true nature of the season still lives. Peace on Earth, goodwill towards men. This Christmas, let yourself be moved to look outside your own interests, and look to the needs of others. Though we may not be able to purchase a house for someone, we can all learn a lesson in generosity. Not just a bit of kindness, but genuine love. Christmas may provoke the worst in some of us, (we’ve all seen that particularly bitter and impatient person on line in the store) but I still believe it can bring out the best in us all. Merry Christmas!
An article about the act of kindness that took place this Sunday can be found at: