Monday, December 21, 2009

Yes, Virginia, There is Still a Merry Christmas

With Christmas upon us, I thought I'd reprint my column from last year's Dallas Morning News. I hope you enjoy it. Merry Christmas!

"Yes, Virginia, There is Still a Merry Christmas"
from the Dec. 25, 2008 Dallas Morning News
by Victor Medina

Dear Virginia,
After your famous letter about Santa Claus, I thought it best to write you before you start to worry. Many people are wondering where Christmas went. It seems some folks don't mention it any more. Instead of "Merry Christmas," they say "Happy Holidays," "Season's Greetings" and "Happy Winter Solstice." If you go shopping, you may have noticed most stores won't mention Christmas by name or who it is named for. You probably saw news stories on TV that most cities and schools don't allow nativity scenes or any mention of the fact that Christmas is Jesus' birthday.

This is because they think it's the "politically correct" thing to do. You may not understand what "politically correct" means, and it's a little hard to describe even to adults, but it basically means: Don't offend people with lawyers.

Some people just don't want a Merry Christmas. Every once in a while, the Scrooges of the world gather together with the overeducated and the litigious, the skeptics and the religious bigots, and assorted patronizing New-Agers and all try to re-create Christmas in their own image. They are the ones who started the rumors about Santa being a fake, too.

After awhile, we all come around to our senses and things go back to normal. Yes, Virginia, there is still a Merry Christmas. You can say it to people and not worry about offending them. Even our Jewish brothers and sisters don't mind hearing it. If they point out their heritage, just apologize and wish them a Happy Hanukkah and a joyous Festival of Lights.

You usually don't run into people who get offended with a "Merry Christmas." They're too busy teaching at universities, making movies or chasing ambulances to meet you. If someone does get offended, just smile and say, "I'm sorry." In truth, if someone is so bitter that he or she can't stand to see others happy, you should feel sorry for him or her.

Some people think there is no room in this world for celebrating Jesus' birthday. The truth is that this world needs to celebrate it more than ever. Why some people are so afraid of a baby in a manger is beyond me. Maybe it's because they realize what that baby means. The Christ of Christmas was a gift that changes lives, even today. Angels heralded His arrival with "Peace on Earth" and "Goodwill to Man." Who couldn't use a little more of that?

Take the Christ out of Christmas, and it's just another day. It's an excuse for shopping or hanging lights. Those things are nice, but it's not what Christmas is all about. The spirit of Christmas, that special feeling you feel this time of year, isn't made by gifts and lighted trees. It's a mix of hope, love, faith and care for our fellow man. That's what the Scrooges all miss.

You can't outlaw that spirit or shame it into the ether. Ban it from public displays and town squares, and the spirit of Christmas finds a way. People will burst into a Christmas carol for no reason. Explosions of spontaneous generosity break out. Christmas miracles become a common occurrence. Yes, Virginia, there is still a Merry Christmas.

Christmas cannot be canceled, not by a dozen recessions. It cannot be smothered, not by a thousand Scrooges. It cannot be forgotten, not by a million cynics. There has never been, nor will there ever be, a problem or crisis in this world that cannot be solved with the love that God has shown us at Christmas.
It is why people say to keep the spirit of Christmas going all year long. We know of whose spirit they speak:

The Christ of Christmas told us how to truly celebrate His birth and life: Give someone who is thirsty a drink. Give someone who is hungry food. Give someone who is cold a blanket to keep him or her warm. Give someone who is sick the care he or she needs. Give someone who is homeless a place to lay his or her head. Give widows and orphans the help they may need. Give your neighbors and your enemies the love and respect you would like to receive. When you do those things for people, the Christ of Christmas said you do it for Him. Yes, Virginia, there still is a Merry Christmas.

As long as love, faith, hope and joy exist, Christmas, and its namesake, will endure in this world.

Friday, December 11, 2009

My Dallas Morning News Blog Entry

Roy Appleton at the Dallas Morning News Oak Cliff blog was kind enough to post my thoughts on the recent murder of one of our neighbors, and my questions for how we as a community should address it. I've gotten some great feedback and I appreciate the notes I've received. To see the post in its entirety, you can click here to read my thoughts.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Get in the Christmas spirit with Arlington Jones at the Dallas Museum of Art!

Arlington Jones is an outstanding jazz musician whose new CD, "Vintage Christmas," is now available online from his website as well as iTunes and Rhapsody, among others. If you need some soulful Christmas music to get in the holiday spirit, then go see Arlington at the Dallas Museum of Art on Thursday, December 3, where he performs at 6:00 p.m. as part of the "Jazz in the Atrium" series. You can even pick up the CD there. I really hope you'll go, I guarantee you will enjoy it - Arlington's been a friend since high school and he is truly a gifted musician.