Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Wednesday's Words for December 5, 2018

Perspective is a powerful force. We all own it, and it controls not only practically everything we think and do, but our reactions to everything we experience.

Where the challenge arises is realizing that this force is a subjective one. My attitude toward something is not your attitude toward that same something—and neither my attitude nor yours is right, nor is it wrong. Perspective is not synonymous with fact. Period.

I think one of the greatest talents to call your own would be the talent to be able to separate subjective perspective from objective facts. That can be a challenge, and one that a lot of people, lately, haven’t been able to wrap their heads around.

The topic of Christmas is a good example to use in explaining how perspectives can be true even if they’re opposing, and neither right nor wrong.

The unassailable fact is that Christmas is a Christian holiday in which people of that faith celebrate the birth of Jesus.

For some people, Christmas is a magical time of year. This is especially so for children. It always warms my heart, the way so many adults go out of their way to foster this sense of wonder in the wee ones, whether those children are theirs or not. Whether it’s helping them write letters to Santa, or the great good gesture of delivering unwrapped presents to a local toy drive, it’s been my experience that for the most part, adults will take the opportunity to promote the spirit of the Christmas, especially if children are involved.

We look forward to Christmas for our children, drawing upon our own memories of Christmases past. I understand that for me, the joy of awaking that morning to discover a filled stocking and a gift under the tree inspired my desire to pass that joy on to my own kids. All my Christmases included a fat juicy orange in the toe of my stocking. What a wonderful, and wondrous treat!

There were bacon and egg breakfasts on Christmas mornings, one of the few mornings in the year when breakfast didn’t come out of a box. Oh, and there’d be a pitcher of gape juice and orange juice, and real butter, too! I don’t recall the Christmas suppers as fondly. When I was a child, the bacon, eggs, butter and juices were all of my favorite foods, and all in one meal. Along with the food, there was family and music, and laughter. We had midnight Eucharist on Christmas Eve, and a general sense of contentment, peace, and well-being.

Of course, as a mom, I did my best to duplicate all of the above for my own family. I understand my perspective of Christmas being a magical, wondrous time of plenty was formed from my own experiences—and yes, flavored a bit from my own personality.

For some people, however, Christmas is a time of empty bellies and aching hearts, and sometimes that ache is nearly unbearable. For some, there never was a sense of “plenty”, or that sense was experienced for a time, and then lost. The Yuletide is a period of year when, for some, their state of want is more keenly felt thanks to the inevitable comparison to the bounty that surrounds them.

We’ve all seen that photo of a child looking into a window longingly gazing at a family celebration, or through the window of a toy store at the array of toys he or she has no hope of ever being able to call their own. Most of us hurt when we see that image, because we understand it represents a perspective shared by far too many in our society.

For some, Christmas is a time when the loss of loved ones is felt sharply. For these people, there’s a part of them that cannot fully celebrate, because the hole in their hearts is just too deep, and too black.

These two perspectives of the Christmas season are on opposite ends of the spectrum, but they are true, while being neither right nor wrong. As the saying goes, it is what it is.

Want and loneliness aren’t restricted to the Christmas season. But this season of giving and having and joy shines a brighter light on the need and the suffering of others. Thirty percent of all charitable donations occur in December. Whether as a reaction to the “spirit of Christmas” or the realization that one needs a bit more of a tax deduction, who can say? There’re another two perspectives that are true and neither right nor wrong.

If you can give even a little to someone in need, I hope you will feel encouraged to do so. And if you know someone who is alone, or missing a loved one, I hope you will think of them, and extend a little kindness.

Giving kindness to others is, I believe and yes, in my perspective, the reason we’re all here on this earth in the first place.


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