What Christmas is really all about

As I write this column, I realize there is less than two weeks until that jolly old elf makes his way into households around the world.
Each year, we celebrate Christmas in different ways.
For many, the arrival of that celebrated Christmas gentleman will offer little comfort. I listened Monday morning as Cathy Alex reported on the collection of gifts of food, clothing, and toys that will be delivered by several regional airlines from Thunder Bay to northern reserves.
This past Saturday, the generosity of district residents filled cruisers and ambulances in the annual “Stuff-A-Cruiser” campaign that was held at Safeway, The Place, and Walmart here in Fort Frances, Cloverleaf in Emo, and the Beaver Mills Market in Rainy River.
The outpouring of generosity by district residents to make the holidays a little brighter for others is heart-warming.
Again this Christmas season, the Fort Frances Times has “adopted” a family through the local Salvation Army. The staff is going out of their way to supply all the ingredients to prepare a great Christmas meals, as well as gifts for all the family members.
Meanwhile, another refugee family from Iraq is due to arrive here shortly and community volunteers are doing everything imaginable to make sure their welcome in this Christmas season is a joyous occasion.
As well, the annual Christmas dinner is being organized and volunteers once again are coming forward to serve up a traditional feast.
I think this is what Christmas is all about. Whether it is sharing a meal at the Christmas dinner with strangers, friends, or acquaintances, it is not being alone.
For others, the generosity of district residents and families will be the difference between a happy Christmas or a Christmas where hope and promise fails to happen.
Christians light the Advent candle leading up to Christmas. Also at this time of year, often overlapping with Christmas, Hanukkah, the festival of lights, is celebrated in the Jewish religion.
This festival is observed to commemorate the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, and part of the celebration is the lighting of the menorah. Nightly, a new candle is lit until the eighth candle is lit on the final night.
Elaborate meals are prepared and gifts are exchanged, which has become more popular in North America.
Both Christmas and Hanukkah occur around the winter solstice.
Many of the ancient pagan rituals have been adopted into other religions. It is celebrated as a rebirth and has been going on for thousands of years marking the beginning of days growing longer.
Those traditions include the Yule Log, the Christmas tree, and mistletoe as symbols of everlasting life.
It is amazing how traditions of hope, peace, and love have found their way from earliest mankind.

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