Thanksgiving has come to a close, paving the way for my favourite time of year, Christmas. If I say “Christmas”, you’re probably thinking Christmas tree, Christmas dinner and gifts. But this period has a deeper meaning than its mere commercial aspect.
I had lost that state of mind made of hope, generosity and affection that my American friends have brought back to me because he cultivates it eagerly.
What is the Christmas Spirit?
In fact, the origin of the “Christmas Spirit” is attributed to Charles Dickens, and his famous Christmas tale or Christmas Carol in its original version. Published on December 17, 1843, this bestseller describes this as a mixture of charity, family happiness, social harmony, solidarity… He is played by Bob Cratchit in the face of avarice Scrooge.
The Spirit of Christmas is therefore above all synonymous with gathering around these values portrayed by Dickens. And this very Victorian imagery (1850) corresponds to the time when the nascent bourgeoisie appropriated this event, generalizing the Christmas dinner of December 24 near the tree and exchanging gifts among the members of the family, whose the celebration celebrates the bonds annually by bringing together all generations around a tree and the young generation.
As you can imagine, it is difficult to define the Christmas Spirit as it varies from person to person. It is a subtle feeling where hovers in the air of patience, joy, repentance and magic. This joy brings us kindness, generosity, but also a certain listening of others. As if, all our annoyances, all our worries were paused to allow our children’s souls to wake up.
- The Hope
I will willingly pass on the religious aspect of this feast. For believers, this feast is therefore a celebration of life and innocence. But they forget that before the birth of Jesus, Christmas was first and foremost a pagan feast, celebrating the undefeated Sun. It made it possible to celebrate the rebirth of light after the longest night of the year (corresponding to the winter solstice). For ancient peoples, this is the most difficult period for the survival of the species. Men are hungry, cold, it is night very early and long. We must keep courage and stand together in difficulties. This period is distressing because the weakest will not survive.
Before honoring the Supreme Body, it was already customary for people to illuminate the houses and to decorate them with holly (because it is the last plant to produce fruit in winter and it also symbolizes fertility). Apples and spices are put in the greenery to ward off possible famine. They put mistletoe on the door to repel the evil spell.
Through these different traditions, men expressed their faith in life and their hope of seeing the return of beautiful days after winter. Even today, this hope is part of the spirit of Christmas.
- The Generosity
Another essential component of the Spirit of Christmas is of course generosity, as evidenced by the tradition of providing the “place of the poor” by putting an extra plate at the Christmas’ table, to offer it to the unknown, who would be sounding out.
As for me, having no family left, I know that the loneliness of the Christmas period is particularly difficult to live with. So I invite all my lonely friends over for a good meal. The goal is to have a good time of joy. Unlike Thanksgiving, I don’t prepare a unique menu, but I ask everyone their favorite dish to make it. Our stomachs sometimes struggle to resist so much mixing…
During this holiday season, it is an opportunity to put away the various family squabbles. This annual event is an opportunity to strengthen family ties by bringing the whole family together in one place for a moment of conviviality. It was in the mid-19th century that the Christmas celebration took its present form, with vigils on the evening of December 24 and the exchange of gifts between family members. But the spirit of Christmas extends even beyond the family circle, to our friends and colleagues to whom we have been able to reserve gifts and small attentions. It is not necessary to ruin oneself, for it is the gesture that counts, the pleasure of offering something that will please the one who receives it, who will show that one thinks of him.
I can’t stand in this consumerist society any longer where the little ones or the big ones know what they’re going to get before they unwrap the gifts. What a pleasure to see the amazement, joy and smile on the face of the person who did not expect to receive this gift. For weeks, I’ve been asking each of my friends for their Christmas list, but I still reserve the right to buy them something they didn’t notice or create something from my ten fingers (Well, that was only when I had more time, but I don’t despair of being able to do it this year). Besides, it does me good to think about what would please them, because I torment my brain cells for days.
In my companies, we organized a Secret Santa. Everyone will be assigned a colleague, to whom he will have to offer or make a gift of no more than 10 euros. It’s not the amount that counts, but the act of offering. That way we’re not in a commercial bidding game. I reassure all my employees who would read this blog, the gift card offered by the company does not disappear, like Santa for children.
More broadly, the holiday season is a moment of peace throughout the country and even in all European countries: this is often called the Christmas truce. So, apply it to your surroundings and forget all conflicts.
Instead of making a truce and bringing all the wars out of the closet next January 1, why not use this Christmas spirit to forgive those who have hurt you this year or to apologize to those you have grieved? It is the right time to reconnect with those who would have distanced themselves because of futility or not, because of our not always obvious character. Knowing how to forgive and question yourself will prove your intelligence and kindness of soul. But above all, it will lighten your heart and mind.
Rediscover the Spirit of Christmas, the one who warms hearts, ignites sparks in the eyes of children, the one who incites us to acts of pure generosity and forgiveness.