Great expectations fill our minds with the arrival of Christmas Day. Peace on earth. Good will. Joy. Happiness. Anticipation of a Happy New Year.
The world contradicts our hope. Tragedy and despair, from the Middle East to Newtown, Conn., fill the news. But Christmas is not a promise that evil will take a holiday or that all will be peaceful for a moment in time.
From the birth of Christ in a lowly manger, the message to the world was hope — a promise of a better way of living and a pathway to an eternity free of the world’s trappings and misfortunes. Even the horrors of the world, in that time long ago and today, do not erode the promise that was fulfilled in Bethlehem.
Much of what is good in the world has its foundation in Christmas. The spirit of charity, which extends well past the holiday season, gets an extra boost from Christmas.
The march of time has not altered the meaning of Christmas; we simply don’t stop long to remember. Presents must be bought and wrapped, large quantities of food consumed, and tiring rounds of visits to family and friends are squeezed into a single day.
But the dawning of Christmas did not decree the lush expectations we have created through the years. Nor does the date forbid such an outpouring of love.
Even for the tired and the grieved, Christmas — at its core — remains a moment of hope that can be carried forward throughout life. The greater author, Charles Dickens, quaintly illustrated this spirit through Ebeneezer Scrooge, a miserable old man who found love and joy and lived those qualities for the remainder of his days.
If that spirit lives in more hearts, then Christmas will always bring joy and peace in the face of the most difficult times.