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GARRISON: More Than Just Greetings

Photo Credit: Siri Stafford/Getty Images


Cards are interesting little conventions on our communities; folks send them out at Christmas time to express sentiments expressing hopes for a joyful season, good tidings for the cold months to come, and often times religious expressions, scriptural quotations and the like.  There is art work depicting winter scenes, smiling children, welcoming doorways and even big old Clydesdales pulling whole wagons filled with spirits of the season.  And yes there are Wise Men on camels, shepherds beneath brilliant stars above “keeping watch” through the long cold night.

We decorate trees, mantles, stairway railings and dinner tables with colors of the season, while outside folks string lights and candy canes that have to be for passersby who don’t even know them—the stuff’s too close for the occupants to get the full impact.  Yes indeed, total strangers festoon porch rails, sidewalks, trees and shrubs for people who are total strangers.  Interesting.

Although sometimes things get way too hectic in the party department, we go to the trouble and expense of hosting holiday open houses, dinners and some BIG family events that bring folks together in a way that no other time of year can match.  Now certainly we know that some conduct these things out of other motives, and some are just “showing off” for the neighbors, but in the main these events cost too much and are waaaaayyyy too much trouble to bother with unless the hosts really mean it—Merry Christmas!

So what's up really with all the trappings, expense, work and effort to be associated with these traditions and expressions of the season?  Maybe there is something ulterior, or selfish, or uninclusive, or not.  Or maybe—just maybe—it is a time when more than mere cursory greetings and perfunctory exercises are afoot.  Maybe we mean it.  And in meaning it we take the time and the energy and the expense and the effort to reach outside the daily same ol’ same ol’ to reach a different result.  And that result is expression of hope and joy and transcendent good will that for the rest of the year appears often to be relegated to the cheap seats.

“Merry Christmas," even when said hurriedly in a crowded elevator I’ll say it—comes from the heart.  Like “the reason for the season” it comes from that sense that there is something unique and wonderful about what is at the foundation of all this stuff.  Events and the story surrounding them that have changed the world for two thousand years do matter even to people who might not recognize consciously what they are saying or the power of the expression.  And that, my friends is why saying it is so much more powerful and prescient than “season’s greetings” or “happy holidays”. 

In point of fact it bespeaks, in addition to simple acknowledgement of the Savior’s birth, a sense of true good will, an expression that, even in the press of the day’s toils, seeks if only momentarily to reach into the recipient’s home and hearth—and to convey true hopes for that cosmic merriment to permeate and enliven all who hear it.  Merry Christmas.

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