Did Christmas Need Saving?

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In case you forgot, the omniscient, the omnipresent, the great and powerful you-know-who has claimed that he saved Christmas.

Was that really necessary?

Christmas needs many things — some sprucing up perhaps, a few more people that embody its spirit and not just dress up for it, fewer Subaru commercials and a full embrace of the notion of good will toward men, and women, and all men and all women.

But do we think Christmas needs saving?

Somehow, many faithful believers in Christmas (which, given the name, seem to be Christians) are afraid that Christmas is being neglected, derided, hijacked, that the birth of Jesus, of Christ, the baby Jesus, is being lost in the shuffle of online sales.

It’s true that over time, the season, if not the practice, faith and fervor of Christmas, has been celebrated in various ways. There are those who believe and have made it a point of faith that this was the time when the savior of mankind was born in a stable or a manger in Bethlehem, that occasion including a star, three kings of Orient, shepherds in the field and a family who could not find room at an inn.

The story — and it was in its own way a new story — grew into a faith that was embraced by millions and known by everyone. And the story persists in our memories, our needs and most of all when we dream, be our dreams nightmares or wishes for peace.

Since that night (and don’t you wish you could have been there, and don’t some of us think that we are there each and every year), the event and the occasion have come together — not always seamlessly — with a more general, secular notion of the season and its meanings, thanks to the embrace of extended families, thanks to literature and music, thanks to the infinite capacity of human beings not only to invent new ideas but to reinvent old ones, remaining in the presence of mystery speechless and musical all at the same time.

Which is a miracle that continues to this day.

As a boy in wartime Germany, I knew that Jesus was even in the wreckage, because I saw him in a manger, and that St. Nicholas was also there, bringing gifts.

Mr. Dickens gave us not a new way but another way of thinking about Christmas, that it is about the revival of generosity, imagination, the giving and receiving of gifts and the embrace of one another.

We know this much: There were three kings (of Orient were), riding sparkling camels in a blue-dark night, guided on their long journey by an amazing star. There were shepherds who saw a star, and a baby cried in the night, and the kings brought impossible-to-spell gifts and everyone that was there that night either brought hope or had hope, or had hope brought to them.

It was like a giant insurance policy that covered us all.

God bless us everyone, said the child, the drummer boy, the kings, say we all
today. Christmas — that little baby and that cold night — is alive. Christmas — the gifts, the

chimney, the songs, Handel and Gene Autry and hot chocolate and snowbanks (optional) — is alive and safe. But thanks just the same.

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