>The meaning of Christmas


>Almost every year there’s a story about some misguided public official, who, suffering from a bad case of political correctness run amok, bans a Christmas symbol.
This year, the “honour” went to a Toronto judge who banned a small Christmas tree from the public area of a court house, where it had been placed every year for decades.
The judge, anticipating the tree might offend non-Christians, ordered it exiled to an out-of-the-way spot.
After the story was broken by Sun Media reporter Brodie Fenlon, it was as if everyone simultaneously decided they’d had enough of this nonsense once and for all.
Jewish and Muslim organizations were among the prominent critics of the judge’s decision, saying it was silly and counterproductive to the goal of creating an inclusive and welcoming society in which ALL faith traditions are respected.

To us, it was also a healthy sign that average Canadians understand what living in a diverse society means, even if too many politicians and befuddled bureaucrats don’t.
That said, while we thought the decision to “exile” the Christmas tree was absurd, we also think this episode teaches us a valuable lesson.
That is, that people who expect representatives of the secular liberal state — which is the type of society we live in — to preserve their religious traditions for them, are always going to be disappointed.
We understand why people get angry when public officials ban Christmas trees and similar symbols at this time of year for which many of us — including non-Christians — have nostalgic feelings going back to our childhoods.
But let’s not kid ourselves.
A Christmas tree in a court house, or a shopping mall, has today become mainly a secular symbol, often associated with the increasing commercialization of Christmas.
The true meaning of Christmas lies in marking and celebrating the birth of the Christ child tomorrow.
We do that through prayers and worship, both privately and in church.
We do it by sharing the joy of the season with family and friends.
By comforting the afflicted and, if we can afford it, donating to worthy charities such as the Salvation Army.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with giving presents to those we love, as long as they are genuine expressions of love and affection intended to make them happy, not put pressure on them to reciprocate. And as long as we can afford to give what we’re getting them.
The problem is that those who regard Christmas as ONLY about gifts, trees and decorations miss the point.
Which is that the real way to celebrate Christmas is through our generosity toward others, measured not by the thickness of our wallets, but by the size of our hearts.
Have a Merry Christmas

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