The Secret of Christmas is Not Politics
Wherever you go this time of year, you hear songs of joy and hope and peace. That music reflects a longing by most people and an ideal that is worth striving for. This year, though, seems especially politically charged, and each news cycle has new episodes to shock us. Joy, hope, and peace seem even more elusive, with division and resentment seeping in from all sides.
The Secret of Christmas was first sung by Bing Crosby in 1959, and many artists after that. The sentiment in the song is as relevant now as ever: It’s not the cards, the music, or the gifts. It’s not the things you do at Christmas time, but the Christmas things you do the rest of the year. Out of three hundred sixty-five days, Christmas is a small portion. Shopping season seems to get pushed earlier each year, but shopping season is not Christmas.
So, what are the Christmas things you do? Cards and letters are a way to let friends and family know you are thinking about them, but communication can work any time of the year. If someone is sick or in the hospital or nursing home, a card or a visit can do wonders for the spirit, whether on a cold, stormy February afternoon or a sparkling autumn evening. People seem to be on their phones or texting all the time. It is such a simple thing to do, yet how often do we keep in touch with brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, mothers and fathers, or friends that live out-of-town?
Charity is a big focus for a lot of people this time of year, with the ubiquitous ringing bells at Salvation Army buckets, fund raisers for food pantries, and Christmas dinners at homeless shelters. Most non-profit and charitable organizations make a big push at year end, using the lure of tax-deductability as an extra lever for giving. There are, however, hungry people year round. Some are out of work and struggling to make ends meet. Some have catastrophic illness or injury that tests the ability to cope, financially and emotionally. Others face hopelessness, lacking skills and not knowing where to turn.
The secret of Christmas is the things that you do, individually and personally. It is the love that you share, it is the time that you take, it is the helping hand that you offer, to neighbors and strangers, when they need it. It is more than nice words, it is more than wishing things were better. It is more than saying “bless you.” It is being a blessing to others.
Too many times people shrug off those Christmas things, the personal things, the things that add sparkle to life and wonder why they can’t find that joy and peace. They suppose that politicians will take care of it. If only we vote in the right person to implement just the right program using just enough tax money taken from others, all of the problems will go away, and we will have heaven on earth. It does not work that way. Politics is not, has not been, and cannot be, charity. Politics is power, and it will be abused, especially as more power is accumulated.
Regardless of what goes on in the news, in our government, or in the world, the person you look at in the mirror when you get up in the morning gets to choose whether you will have joy, peace, and love in your life. You get to decide on what you hope for and, more importantly, what you do with the twenty-four hours you have at your disposal. The secret of Christmas is choosing every day to those things that we suppose makes Christmas so special.
Daniel J. McLaughlin is the author of “Compassion and Truth-Why Good Intentions Don’t Equal Good Results.” Formerly a finance executive, he is now focused primarily on writing on economics, business, and politics. You can find him at daniel-mclaughlin.com.