By Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
How does your family celebrate Christmas? Is having a turkey at Christmas part of your tradition? Does your family put out a Nativity scene? The term nativity comes from the Latin nativus, which means ‘arisen by birth’. One of the most popular Christmas Carols Felix Navida was written in 1970 by the blind Puerto Rican singer and songwriter José Feliciano’. Felix Navida in Spanish essentially means ‘Happy Birth’. It is easy to forget that Christmas at its heart is a birthday celebration. I don’t know about you, but I love birthdays. Maybe that is why I love Christmas.
One of my earliest Deep Cove Crier articles, co-written with my wife Janice, was about birth, the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Janice wrote: “Decorating for Christmas was always a wonderful time in our house. First we would go buy a real tree at the tree lot, set it up in the window, and start decorating. Not only did we decorate the tree but my dad also put miniature lights around this huge mirror and set up the angels dancing around the candle chimes. My little brother’s eyes would glow when we turned off the normal lighting and just left the Christmas lights on in the living room. What a beautiful sight!”
Ed added: As a child, I loved the presents, the lights, the turkey, and the tinsels… As a teen, I became cynical about Christmas and wrote it off as commercial exploitation. At age 17, I met some friends who had a joy and inner peace that really attracted me to them. Christmas still excited them. I asked them: “Why?” They told me they were excited about a child in a manger. At age 17, I too came to know that child. I made a manger for Him in my heart. Once again Christmas stirred within me “Peace on Earth, Good will to Men” Once again I could sing “Joy to the World” and really mean it.
Each Christmas we are given another opportunity to have a real fun birthday party. We don’t need to do Christmas perfectly. What if we could simply enjoy the season? As we gather around the Christmas manger, we are reminded that we are deeply loved and we are never alone. It is not a coincidence that people love to sing at Christmas time. Christmas touches our hearts in unexpected ways. Christmas breaks through our adult cynicism and gives us child-like joy and peace, if only for a short time. What might help your Christmas this year be more child-like? What burdens do you need to lay aside so that you can enter into the mystery of this holy, joyful season?
Our Christmas prayer is that all those who are reading this article feel the peace of that little baby lying in the manger.
Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
-an article previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News
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