The word “Christmas” actually means Mass of Christ from “Christes Maesse” in the Old English. While the actual date of Christ's birth is unknown, it is believed that Dec. 25 was set by a Roman bishop around the 3rd Century A.D. The date has since emerged as the most important day for Christians everywhere and reflects the power, glory and salvation of Jesus Christ and his message of hope to the world.
With the passage of time the annual celebration has changed as different cultures embrace the festival of Christmas with their own customs and traditions. Yet, one thing has remained constant. Christmas is a time of joy, happiness, love and good will to all men.
Christmas has numerous symbols and traditions such as the evergreen, the symbol of eternal life. The Christmas wreath represents everlasting life and God's endless love. Kissing under the mistletoe supposedly started when early Roman enemies stopped fighting when they met under mistletoe. Holly is perhaps the best known Christmas greenery and has become associated with the crown of thorns. But the best known Christmas tradition is gift-giving which symbolizes the great gift God gave to mankind.
It's unfortunate that the tradition of gift-giving has become so commercialized. For many, the emphasis has shifted from Jesus Christ to Santa Claus. Retail sales during the holiday, which originated from “holy day,” are now used by economists to gauge the health of the national economy. Madison Avenue advertising agencies produce slick commercials to assist corporate America in selling their latest gadgets. Retailers and credit-card companies try to convince us that our love for friends and family is gauged by how much we spend on gifts.
However, I suggest this is a good time to reflect upon the distinction between what we want and what we need or what we give instead of what we get. The true value of a gift isn't always measured by its price tag. Some of the most precious gifts cost nothing at all … and can be life-changing. Many people simply need to be loved, listened to or appreciated.
There are many gifts that cost us nothing but are priceless in value and make a great impact when given away, such as passing on a compliment. Not passing on an insult, even when it was very witty, an encouraging word for someone trying something new. Taking time to listen. Talking to someone you've been taught to ignore such as a person of a different race or a homeless person. Helping an elderly neighbor or a single mom. Speaking up when someone makes an abusive or inaccurate comment. Staying calm under attack and venting your anger somewhere else. Taking the time to research a rumor, then spreading the facts to counter it. Returning good for evil. Passing on information about job openings or other opportunities. Giving a word of praise to someone whose efforts may have been overlooked. Paying attention to what is happening around your neighbors' house while they're away. Speaking up for someone whose character is being insulted. Getting involved in your local neighborhood association or community council. Working to make sure the needs of everyone in the community are addressed … not just the folks with the most money. Tutoring a child.
These are just a few gift ideas that could make a lasting impact upon someone's life and bring joy to the giver. This holiday season consider how our community would be affected if everyone looked for opportunities to give someone a life-changing gift for Christmas?
On behalf of Bradley County government, I wish every citizen a safe, healthy and happy Christmas. It is an honor to serve Bradley County and I am again thankful this Christmas for the trust you place in me. My wife Sonya and I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas!