The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

David Knepper

November 24, 2013

David Knepper | Let the Christmas spirit shine in your life

JOHNSTOWN — “My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?”

– Bob Hope


Ordinarily, I am not so inclined to begin marking the days to Christmas on the calendar, but this year I am making an exception. Getting into the spirit of Christmas begins now.

Many of us have our own special meaning of Christmas, but none so important to Christians as the celebration of the birth of Jesus beginning with the season Advent next Sunday. While the birth of Jesus is the real reason we celebrate Christmas, the true spirit of Christmas must transcend a mere historical event. 

Maybe we can use this season of light as a time to enlighten ourselves and to find the ways in which we can be a light to others as well.

Like many of you, I am exhausted and disheartened by recent insistent, rancorous debate concerning the new national health system, labeled “Obamacare” by its critics. Hopefully, the spirit of Christmas will enlighten the halls of Congress to end the divisiveness by each side and our elected leaders will reach common ground to move forward with the nation’s agenda and remember that public service should outweigh political gain.

For me personally, the spirit of Christmas would be the elixir to help me relieve my self-inflicted pain as a result of my addiction to network TV news coverage.  My insolence or bad manners has uncharacteristically become part of my demeanor when I now tell friends and family members not to call me during the evening news. 

How sad when the love of television becomes more important than the presence of those loved ones around me. No more!

For many, the Christmas season is celebrated as well in a personal way with family and friends, the gifts under the tree, the lights in the windows, the cards in the mail, turkey dinners with all the fixings, the snow in the yard, Christmas music, stockings hanging in the living room, and shouts of “merry Christmas” to those who pass us on the streets.

But, it is the spirit of Christmas that shines more brightly in the outward demonstration of peace and goodwill to all, especially in the sharing of our gifts to the needy and less fortunate.

Let us never forget to remember the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform serving around the world.  Even sending a Christmas card or, better yet, some of your yummy cookies to anyone in uniform shows them you care.

Merry Christmas and let the spirit of Christmas shine through you not only during the season, but throughout the whole year.

David A. Knepper is currently the executive director of the Forest Hills Regional Alliance. He holds a doctorate in educational administration from Penn State. His column appears monthly in the Sunday edition.


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