What a wonderful Christmas it was this year. My oldest son asked me what about this Christmas did I enjoy and I answered, “Just having you here”. It is true, seeing my family around me was the biggest joy of my life. I missed one son who could not make it, but to have the majority of my family with me brought me supreme joy. After they all left my wife and I cuddled for a few moments with a cup of hot chocolate and our thoughts to just appreciate the moment of happiness we both felt. It is about appreciation I must write about, seeing it is directly after Christmas. William James, a pioneering American psychologist and philosopher once said, “The deepest craving in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” I knew it was true of me of course for I know my soul so very well, but to imagines it is also true for others is a bit of an eye-opener for me. To think that all of us, each and every human being on earth craves being appreciated more than anything else, even heavenly beings! Wow!
It makes so much sense though as I consider this point, that appreciation is so important to everyone. It makes the wonder and magic of Christmas come alive with explanation. It is the essence of all great writings having to do with Christmas such as “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. Also “The Greatest Gift” written by Philip Van Doren Stern which became one of the most endearing and enduring Christmas stories ever put to film by Hollywood, in “It’s a Wonderful Life”. These stories are all about appreciation. I will leave out the greatest Christmas story of all and the real meaning of Christmas for just a few minutes longer as I continue to tell you of my appreciation.
I am struck with a spirit of love and appreciation that is so strong during Christmas. If I had the money I would shower everyone with gifts. In our family we have a great gift-giving-arrangement which takes all the waste out of Christmas, we tell each other what we want and we get what we want at Christmas. No one is too extreme in their requests as we follow the unwritten rule that we would not ask of others what we ourselves could not give. Everyone is happy. We all get the “presents-thing” out of the way and we go on to enjoy our relationships and have fun. This year my youngest son dazzled us with a mind teaser game that made everyone think and laugh.
Of course Christmas is not always fun. There are the moments of emotionalism that are tied to past hurts, anger and guilt, and marred relationships that we must deal with; however these often turn into opportunities for healing. Some of us have no families and we spend Christmas alone or with other families and that makes for lonesome times and unhappiness. I feel sorry for those who are alone, and my wife and I try to make room for such ones to enjoy with us the holidays if possible.
Overall I am glad for Christmas though I have been known to be somewhat of a scrooge myself in dragging my feet in putting decorations up and getting in the spirit; but in the end I am always happy that Christmas has come with all of it’s emotions bad and good. I didn’t get to spend Christmas with everyone I would like to this year, but I did spend it well with those I was with. Though my wife had to put up the tree herself this year, I eventually showed up for the celebration. It is because during Christmas I eventually find the power of appreciation. I am reminded of the things I am grateful for; small and large – and that is what Christmas should be about.
The real Christmas celebration is about appreciating the birth of one that came to be our savior. And in truth it is not the birth alone we celebrate. The birth was important for if it had not happen we as a race of people would be doomed to death. That is why we celebrate along with the angels and praise his name and sing our glory Alleluias as the angels did that very first Christmas night; however, he was born, lived, and more importantly died so that we would not have to stay in our graves but would be raised up as he was to live life eternally if we choose to. This is what we should really be appreciating and celebrating with our families. Life! Not life as we know it in this corrupt dying world, but life eternal in an incorrupt world. This is the greatest gift of all! The gift of eternal life is what we should appreciate. The birth of that Hebrew baby in Bethlehem was the birth of our hope and the beginning of our salvation.
Santa Clause, Rudolf the Red-nose-Reindeer, the ghost of Jacob Marley and Scrooge are all just make believe characters that help entertain us and also help the grand marketers to exploit the advantages of our giving spirits during the holidays. If we are not careful, they can consume the entire holiday and block out the true meaning of Christmas like a magic trick right before our very eyes. Don’t let that happen. Keep the holidays, but keep them as they aught to be kept by remembering the Christ child’s birth and what it means to mankind. Our appreciation of this fact should illuminate us and make us want to give to the poor and needy, just as Scrooge eventually did with his recourses.
As I ponder over what William James said, that the deepest craving in human nature is to be appreciated; I can only wonder if this applies to the Christ who was born human himself. Surely if we were made in God’s image I would say it is highly likely that He too longs to be appreciated. As they look down upon us during this Christmas season from their high station above, I hope my appreciation is seen. May I prove it through my own giving this holiday season. May this holiday find you showing your appreciation too.