What does Christmas really mean?

I suppose it could mean many different things to many different people – it may honestly just be a matter of one’s perspective. For some it means the birth of Christ, for some it means presents and Santa Claus, for some it means good food shared with good friends, and for others it means depression, isolation and lonliness.

Aside from the religious aspects of the holiday, which I was (as I suspect were most of us) taught as a child, Christmas most definitely seems to have other meanings. Or should I say has come to mean other things to people. People the world over, celebrate Christmas, look forward to Christmas, devote endless hours to Christmas preparations – entire industries have been built on Christmas. So, I’d have to say that Christmas is a big deal.

I guess what I’m getting at is why is it such a big deal to people? Is it just because it’s nice to get presents, paid time off from work and to eat rich and delicious foods? Or does it go deeper than that? I have been thinking a lot lately about why Christmas is such a big deal to me. As far back as I can remember it has been important to me, and I’ve been trying to figure out how the importance was conveyed to me. Was it all the many old Christmas movies I’ve watched again and again since childhood, the pretty Christmas light displays, the Christmas music, the big party of it all? Actually, I don’t think so.

While all or most of those things have served to reinforce my love of Christmas there has (for me) always been one resounding theme to it. That theme is, our best. The thing about Christmas that makes me really love it is that it seems to inspire people to be at their best, do their best, show their best. It is the one time of year when people can be kind, happy, cheerful, etc. for no reason other than the season. People just seem to try harder to be happy and kind then. And I think that even as a small child I felt that, I sensed it and I loved it. I never quite understood why it seemed to disappear not long after Christmas but it was always something to look forward to for me.

I admit it, I am a closet optimist – which likely accounts for much of my cynicism – I really just want everyone to be happy – and somehow believe it is my job to bring that about. Silly as it sounds when I type the words out here on the page and debate whether or not I’ll publish them, it’s true.

So I guess I will just say that Christmas means a special kind of time out, from the stresses and disappointments of life – it means a new opportunity to be happy, to show our happy selves, to share ourselves with others and to be nice for no reason at all. Yes, that’s what it means to me…what does it mean to you?