What Christmas looks like and what it is supposed to be

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Driving down Alpine Boulevard last night, I was pleasantly surprised to see many businesses adorned with colored Christmas lights. It was as if by magic, Christmas elves stayed up all night to decorate the gables, fences and windows of many businesses up and down Alpine’s Main Street commercial area.

It actually caught me off guard to see such a display of Christmas spirit as I was in the middle of complaining about Alpine’s increased traffic, lack of community involvement or how difficult it is to back out of parking spaces along the boulevard.

Driving down Alpine Boulevard last night, I was pleasantly surprised to see many businesses adorned with colored Christmas lights. It was as if by magic, Christmas elves stayed up all night to decorate the gables, fences and windows of many businesses up and down Alpine’s Main Street commercial area.

It actually caught me off guard to see such a display of Christmas spirit as I was in the middle of complaining about Alpine’s increased traffic, lack of community involvement or how difficult it is to back out of parking spaces along the boulevard.

Now, in the spirit of all honesty, not only can I be a hypocrite but I can also be a holiday Grinch.  However, today my heart nearly doubled in size as I witnessed my community’s effort of honoring the Messiah’s birth.

My only wish is that one of our local churches or wealthy residents would purchase a life-size nativity scene to be prominently displayed in our community, possibly in the five-way intersection at our town’s epicenter.

The thing I like the most about the Christmas season is that people are generally kinder to one another.

It’s like the distinct cinnamon-apple aroma from one of those plug-in room fresheners that just cannot be overlooked or ignored and overwhelms you as you enter a room where one has been installed. It is having an overall positive outlook; the desire to head straight for the bell ringer standing next to the bright red kettle and throw a ten- or twenty-dollar bill inside as you exit the store.

I love turning on the radio to one of those stations playing twenty-four hours of Christmas music. Then, upon hearing some obscure 1940’s rendition of “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas,” you find yourself humming along to it in your car. It is the feeling while grocery shopping that you have to buy a quart of eggnog, cranberry infused English Muffins or a box of red and white candy canes as the store is also playing twenty-four hour Christmas music.

Sometimes, I have to admit that the commercialism of Christmas compels me to want to throw a blanket around my head, stand up on stage in the limelight and begin to explain the true meaning of Christmas. In my world or any world, “Happy Holidays” is not acceptable vernacular to announce the advent of the Messiah’s birth and besides it just feels so good to holler out “Merry Christmas” in a guttural Burl Ives kind of way.

Since Christmas only comes once a year, why not throw out the red carpet for the Messiah?

However, since we don’t need to bless our local power company; why not use L.E.D. lights, as many as you can afford, or splurge by installing that solar photovoltaic system that you have been putting off purchasing.

Also, don’t forget to attend seasonal events like a community Christmas parade.

You can invite your family and friends over to make Christmas cookies then give them away to your neighbors.

Bundle up in warm winter clothes and host a hay ride, go Christmas caroling or make a batch of hot spiced cider for a friend. Put together care packages, buy blankets, gloves and toiletries for people living out on our streets.

The true message of Christmas is more than just exchanging presents, planning a family get-together or attending a church service for the second time in one year.

Christmas is the spirit of giving, goodwill to all men, and an overall feeling of joy as we reflect on the birth of the Christ child.

It is “Emmanuel,” or “God with us,” a gift from God that no man could ever purchase. It is the simple joyous act of hearing an amazing truth; just as Linus explained it to Charlie Brown on that Christmas Eve so many years ago, it is the Christmas story recorded in the gospel of Luke chapter two verses eight through fourteen.

“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.  Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’”