Dec 212016

As a small child, Christmas held a special magic I’ve often wished I could experience once again. Mesmerized by the tinseled tree whose outstretched arms protected rewards for a good little boy’s year-long behavior, I anticipated for two weeks what marvelous treasures lay concealed by colored wrapping paper bound with glittering ribbons and bows. I imagined the most wonderful toys the Sears catalog depicted and described!

As I grew, I recognized those gifts for what they truly were – not toys, but sacrifices. I came from a poor family and gradually realized how much they gave up to demonstrate their love for me, doing without things they needed and wanted, preferring to shower me with happiness.

Their example of loving and caring and giving was the greatest gift they could have possibly provided, one that has lasted a lifetime. Do I long to feel that magic I felt as a child again? Yes. Every Christmas. Would I trade it for the feeling of now seeing my loved ones enjoy what I give to them? Never.

Giving is what Christmas is truly about, imitating the greatest gift and sacrifice ever made. The physical gifts we exchange merely symbolize that. My Christmas wish for you, then, is to be part of the ongoing magic, giving and receiving, providing and being provided for, sacrificing and, most of all, loving one another completely.    –RG


Dec 012010

Ahhh…the holidays. Never was there a more magical time as a child than those eight glorious weeks comprising November and December.

I remember fondly the over-abundant dinner at Thanksgiving and the curious anticipation of presents under the tinseled tree at Christmas (now well over four decades past) that were in stark contrast to the meager lifestyle we “humble” folks lived the remainder of the year.

We didn’t have much by today’s standards, and kids nowadays have things my generation didn’t even imagine as possible. In some ways, that’s very sad. I think being able to pop in a holiday DVD movie in July or to watch one on their iPod whenever they want robs the “specialness” out of this time of year.

Who remembers searching the TV Guide listings (in the days before the channel grid at the push of a button) to make sure you didn’t miss the only showings of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, “The Little Drummer Boy”, “Frosty the Snowman”, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”? Can you still see Santa sledding down the snowy hill perched atop a Norelco electric razor? I sure can.

Those shows helped shape my moral values – aided by my dear grandmother’s belt and apricot-tree switch, of course – by describing a world in which self-sacrifice, teamwork, and generosity overcame all obstacles barring the path to goodness.

Now we’re treated to such programming as “Larry the Cable Guy’s Star-Studded Christmas Extravaganza” which starts out with Larry in a bar, stealing drinks from midgets dressed like Santa’s elves, and “Phineas and Ferb Christmas Vacation” that has Buford confiding that he “has a method” – act any way you want all year long, and then right before Christmas, perform one big selfless act of kindness.

Have we lost the traditions and values of our previous generations? Absolutely not. If you think we have, may I point out how Americans rescued oil-soaked animals, cheered the freedom of trapped miners, and gave so much to the victims of the Haitian earthquake? We are indeed a kind, generous, caring, strong, and resourceful people.

We just don’t talk about it or teach it as much as we should. In our quest to honor diversity, we’ve perhaps forgotten (or have grown fearful to point out) that a country stands only through unity – that a house divided will surely fall.

My wish this season is that we might all see it’s not about us, but really it’s about others, that we might all love and give generously to those around us. And that we might never fail to teach the proud traditions and the courageous strength of our heritage to the next generation who are relying upon us to do so.

I wish a truly Merry Christmas to all and hope that even if you do not celebrate this most glorious of holidays that you at least partake of it’s traditional values. My friend, I honor your diversity, I respect your right to think for yourself, and I admire your strength. May we stand together always as one for what is right and for what is good. And may you be blessed in all the righteouness that you do!