Share the spirit of the season

Gerry Phelan
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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

Geographic location: Mount Pearl

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Recent comments

  • RJ
    December 21, 2012 - 11:47

    Two months of commercialism.Sad selfish world.Tell the family we are going to make something for each other instead buying things.And a strange man dressed up in disguise getting his jollies with little kids in his lap...pretty sick.There are to many perverts out there.No stranger in a red and white suit is allowed to hold my child.

    • a business man
      December 22, 2012 - 13:25

      I see nothing wrong with the commercialism. I work hard all year, and it is the time to provide my family with the excesses of life. We will never make things for each other, but rather look to buy something extravagant and memorable. Furthermore, some of my businesses are retail based, so I support the commercialism because I benefit from it. Therefore, I encourage everyone to go out and buy something special and expensive. that said, i do share your sentiments about the Santa Claus workers. I never let my kids sit on Santa. We need to ask ourselves who are these guys dressing up as Santa. Are they doctors, lawyers, police officers and highly respected community members who are trying to make Christmas special for the kids? Or are they alcoholic, drug addicted individuals who cannot get a job anywhere else at a time of the year when every retail organization is hiring? Are the convicts who cannot pass a background check? Are they individuals who cannot be trusted to count the cash but who end up with innocent children on their laps. The Santa situation is pretty screwed up if you ask me. It seems to me that anyone worth a grain of salt would find a better job. but that is just my opinion

  • david
    December 21, 2012 - 10:28

    I guess you're off your meds ,eh? Or is a post or two about charity at Christmas your own way of squaring your otherwise completely idiotic "philosophies" on life? Compared to you, Scrooge was a saint, a business genius, and a bon vivant. On behalf of every fan or participant in any area of commercial activity: go away.

    • a business man
      December 21, 2012 - 15:32

      Yeah, insult me because you disagree with how I run my business. You are certainly entitled to you opinion, and I am entitled to my conduct. In any case, I do more than make a post or two for charity. I have founded numerous shelters and soup kitchens in the US. Through my combined business interests, I sponsor at least 100 children through World Vision. I donate to all the major Toronto hospitals and to the hospitals in the US cities that I have businesses in. I am happy to support charities that I believe in. And I am happy to not support charities that I do not believe in.

  • a business man
    December 21, 2012 - 09:55

    I encourage business owners to make an effort to support those less fortunate during the holidays. In the US cities that I operate in, I sponsor an annual turkey dinner and donate $$ to some of the shelters in those cities. For business owners, it is a great way to give back to the communities that you operate in and get your name out there as a sponsor, and it is also a tax write-off.

  • Jerome
    December 21, 2012 - 09:10

    There's a line in a Don Williams song that goes: "I don't believe that Heaven waits, for only those who congregate". Merry Christmas Mr. Phelan.

  • Danielle
    December 21, 2012 - 08:01

    hello, I am a mom of three little boys and the holidays can be a tough time financial and emotionally. Struggling for christmas groceries and presentys and all the little things you need to have a happy holiday. Well this year my worries of all the extras was taking care of, A woman named mrs Harris and her co-workers, Put together a Christmas Hamper for us. This was out of the goodness of her heart that she thought of doing this for us. I actually ran out of cupboard space. When i seen the amount of stuff i was so overwelmed with joy. This is what christmas really is about. I thanked Mrs Harris and gave a christmas card but to me that just wasn't enough so i wanted to post on here about my Christmas Angel and how she made my families christmas a little bit brighter this year. Thank you so much.

  • Herb Morrison
    December 21, 2012 - 06:27

    Merry Christmas, Mr. Phelan