The world will not end today. For months, some people have been preaching that today is the day it all finishes. I didn’t believe it then, and although the day isn’t over yet, as sure as you are reading these words, I know I was right.
It’s kind of ironic that the spectre of the end of time was raised during the very season we celebrate life. Monday night, there will be lineups in churches as people make their way to Christmas Eve celebrations. On Tuesday, Christmas Day, it will be the same thing. We’ll see faces we only see this time of year, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I think it’s great.
Crowds often show up at places of worship for baptisms, weddings and funerals, to celebrate an occasion or to mark a life lived. Regular churchgoers sometimes wonder aloud about where these people are during the other weeks of the year. Well, they are living their lives as best they can.
Some of the best Christians I know rarely go to church. They do God’s work quietly, behind the scenes, perhaps not even knowing they are doing so. They don’t think twice about it or look for platitudes for helping someone fix a flat tire or clearing snow from a neighbour’s driveway.
They might be the first people to knock on the door and welcome a new homeowner to the neighbourhood, or invite them to a meal or a social occasion. There’s the worker who makes a new employee feel welcome, and a boss who recognizes that someone in the department needs a little extra, and sneaks them the help without fanfare.
How many of you know secret Santas? Most of us have probably been one. For several years, I secretly dropped off a sack of gifts to a home in Mount Pearl. It would contain wine or beer, cookies and cake and other foodstuffs of the season, and some small Christmas gifts. I’d leave the package in the early hours of Christmas morning and rush off, eagerly waiting to hear my friend describe his surprise. He never did. I figured he was just so humbled at receiving this secret sack that he kept it to himself.
It came as a shock, years later, when I realized I’d been delivering to the wrong address, a half-dozen doors down the street. Still, I’m sure I made someone happy.
Santa doesn’t always have a beard. Christmas spirit isn’t male or female, short or tall, big or thin. It’s you. Give someone a break at the supermarket line, show patience for the overworked man or woman at the checkout, stick a few dollars in the kettle or smile at the person walking towards you who seems to be so frazzled they may reply with a “Bah, humbug.”
We all know someone who has had a difficult year, through sickness, a death or other tragedy. Cards and gifts may cost money, but kind words in phone calls and surprise visits are free.
Christmas is you, the people who may make their way through the doors of my church next week for the first time in a year. You can take the comfortable seat I’ve rested my backside in for the other 51 weeks, and you are welcome to it.
Last year I shared the story of a call to Santa on VOCM from Emma. She said friends who didn’t believe in him “are not being nice to me. They won’t play with me.”
Speaking directly to the trio, Santa said, “Try to be good to each other, because that is what Christmas is all about.
“There are millions of reasons to believe, including all those children who write letters to me. The magic is to think about others first, as most people do at this time of year. As the first family of Christmas lived, Christmas is not about me. It’s about you.”
Thank you Santa. Merry Christmas!
The world will not end today. It’s Christmas. It’s a new beginning. And I hope this one is all you pleasantly dreamed it would be.
Gerry Phelan is a journalist and
former broadcaster. He can be reached at