By Henrylito D. Tacio
“Why don’t you give love on Christmas Day…” the song reminds us. As Christmas is fast approaching, allow me to share this story written by a teacher:
Mark, a small elf-like student with wide-eyed innocent eyes and soft rosy cheeks, was an 11-year-old orphan who lived with his aunt, a bitter middle aged woman greatly annoyed with the burden of caring for her dead sister’s son. She never failed to remind young Mark, if it hadn’t been for her generosity, he would be a vagrant, homeless waif. Still, with all the scolding and chilliness at home, he was a sweet and gentle child.
I had not noticed Mark particularly until he began staying after class each day (at the risk of arousing his aunt’s anger, I later found) to help me straighten up the room. We did this quietly and comfortably, not speaking much, but enjoying the solitude of that hour of the day. When we did talk, Mark spoke mostly of his mother. Though he was quite small when she died, he remembered a kind, gentle, loving woman, who always spent much time with him.
As Christmas drew near however, Mark failed to stay after school each day. I looked forward to his coming, and when the days passed and he continued to scamper hurriedly from the room after class, I stopped him one afternoon and asked why he no longer helped me in the room. I told him how I had missed him, and his large gray eyes lit up eagerly as he replied, “Did you really miss me?”
I explained how he had been my best helper. “I was making you a surprise,” he whispered confidentially. “It’s for Christmas.” With that, he became embarrassed and dashed from the room. He didn’t stay after school any more after that.
Finally came the last school day before Christmas. Mark crept slowly into the room late that afternoon with his hands concealing something behind his back. “I have your present,” he said timidly when I looked up. “I hope you like it.” He held out his hands, and there lying in his small palms was a tiny wooden box.
“It’s beautiful, Mark. Is there something in it?” I asked opening the top to look inside.
“Oh you can’t see what’s in it,” he replied, “and you can’t touch it, or taste it or feel it, but mother always said it makes you feel good all the time, warm on cold nights, and safe when you’re all alone.”
I gazed into the empty box. “What is it Mark,” I asked gently, “that will make me feel so good?”
“It’s love,” he whispered softly, “and mother always said it’s best when you give it away.” And he turned and quietly left the room.
Josephine Dodege Daskam Bacon reminds: “Remember this December that love weighs more than gold!” Dave Barry states matter-of-factly: “Once again we find ourselves enmeshed in the Holiday Season, that very special time of year when we join with our loved ones in sharing centuries-old traditions such as trying to find a parking space at the mall. We traditionally do this in my family by driving around the parking lot until we see a shopper emerge from the mall, then we follow her, in very much the same spirit as the Three Wise Men, who 2,000 years ago followed a star, week after week, until it led them to a parking space.”
Christmas means to different people. Author Charles Dickens wrote: “I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”
To D.D. Monroe, Christmas “is the one season of the year when we can lay aside all gnawing worry, indulge in sentiment without censure, assume the carefree faith of childhood, and just plain ‘have fun.’ Whether they call it Yuletide, Noel, Weinachten, or Christmas, people around the earth thirst for its refreshment as the desert traveler for the oasis.” Instead of being a time of unusual behavior, Christmas, according to Francis C. Farley, “is perhaps the only time in the year when people can obey their natural impulses and express their true sentiments without feeling self-conscious and, perhaps, foolish. Christmas, in short, is about the only chance a man has to be himself.”
“That magic blanket that wraps itself about us,” and “that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance.” Those were the words Augusta E. Rundel used to describe Christmas. She further explains: “It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance – a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.”David Grayson admits that sometimes people expect too much of Christmas Day. He observes, “We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year. And thus I drift along into the holidays – let them overtake me unexpectedly – waking up some find morning and suddenly saying to myself: ‘Why, this is Christmas Day!’”
As we celebrate this year’s Christmas, remember this statement which appeared in the December 25, 1937 issue of ‘New York Times’: “We hear the beating of wings over Bethlehem and a light that is not of the sun or of the stars shines in the midnight sky. Let the beauty of the story take away all narrowness, all thought of formal creeds. Let it be remembered as a story that has happened again and again, to men of many different races, that has been expressed through many religions, that has been called by many different names. Time and space and language lay no limitations upon human brotherhood.”
Finally, here’s a thought from Madeline Morse: “Let Christmas not become a thing / Merely of merchant’s trafficking, / Of tinsel, bell and holly wreath / And surface pleasure, but beneath / The childish glamour, let us find / Nourishment for soul and mind. / Let us follow kinder ways / Through our teeming human maze, / And help the age of peace to come / From a Dreamer’s martyrdom.” Merry Christmas! — ###