Horsin’ Around: Spirit of Christmas
April 14, 2006
by Roger Thompson
Fort Collins, Colo.
In my limited memory, I can remember only one other time when Christmas had such specific meaning. It was Christmas following the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor when we thought our country was to be invaded by those who wanted to
take our freedom away.
Our older brothers and uncles
prepared to fight while we younger boys stayed home and oiled up the .22 rifle, just in case. Most of those young men and women spent the next several Christmases far away from home and some never returned. But they sent treasured songs back like “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” and “I’m Dreaming of A White Christmas.” Since that time, there have been many other wars where our young men and women have been called to protect those at home and we have become secure, maybe even complacent, in our safety at home.
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But since Sept. 11, we’ve discovered how vulnerable we are in our safe homes and wonder, as we are told to be alert for the next attack, where it will be and how safe are we. As I sat listening to the news and watching people in impoverished nations living under tyrannical rule, the Christmas Spirit no longer meant bright lights, parties and lavish gifts. To me, it became a gift of love, to be carried in the heart, year ’round, and shared with others.
After all it was the beloved apostle John who wrote, “For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son; that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” And it was this Son who answered the question that the greatest commandment was to love your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as you love your self.
It seems that this message was first sent to the hard-working folks who took care of the livestock of that day. For the Son was born in a stable, surrounded by livestock. And the first ones told to go see this event, were the herdsmen of sheep in the hills around Bethlehem. It makes me wonder if the people who love the land and take care of the animals aren’t just a little special? If this is true, the Spirit of Christmas can be found anywhere, all year long.
Then, I am reminded of my neighbor family and friends who fed my horses and dogs while I spent a week in the hospital, recuperating from a horse accident a year ago. Or the little girl from last year’s camp who asked her dad to invite me to Christmas dinner because I had no one to spend Christmas with. Sometimes, I think the Spirit of Christmas is a smile and wave from one of the parents who bring their children to the school bus stop in the morning or holding a door open for a lady with her arms full of packages or a man older than me.
If this is the true meaning of the Spirit of Christmas, then I am going to make a New Year’s Resolution to carry it in my heart all year long.