WHENEVER Christmas time comes, newspapers are abound with preachy editorials lamenting that the true meaning of Christmas seems to have been forgotten. Capitalists are usually vilified for poisoning our minds with the gospel of commercialism. Even Santa Claus gets his share of flak.
But what is the true meaning of Christmas? And who dictates what it should be?
To a child, Christmas means having new toys; to a student, it means a long respite from the pressures of school; to an employee, bonuses; to the child of an OFW, missing a loved one; to a lover in despair, cold nights made even colder by the low temperature in December; and, to a security guard on duty, just another day at work. The list goes ad infinitum.
While Christmas is mainly a Christian event, it is an occasion that transcends the bounds of religion. It is humanity at large that we celebrate, the same humanity that Christ embraced in the lowly manger in Bethlehem and, later on, in the cross at Golgotha. How is it to be human? How is it to be not only in December, but at any given time? Only when Christmas has permeated our daily lives, be it in March, June, or September, have we experienced it at all.
Only when we have befriended love, joy, compassion, and also sorrow, anxiety, and suffering—and other emotions that characterize our existence have we unwrapped the present of all presents.
And only when we have gotten to terms with the reality that no two persons are exactly alike can we achieve the oft-spoken-but-perennially-elusive world peace.
To many, Christmas is about giving and receiving. But happier are those who appreciate what is already there, and which cannot be taken away—the chance to be human. To celebrate Christmas as an occasion is to be occasionally human.