We've forgotten the real meaning of humanity, the real meaning of ourselves.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983


Happy Holy Day

December 25, 2011

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2011, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2011, The Post-Standard

My dictionary tells me "holiday" comes from the Old English word "haligdaeg." It means, simply, "holy day."

Somebody ought to tell the rest of the world.

If there ever was a holy day, it's got to be Christmas -- in case you're wondering, "Christ's Mass." There's nothing in the ancient record of this Holy Day about Black Friday or Kindles or even, pardon my audacity, Santa Claus. This day is about the birth of somebody special.

I'm not a Bible pounder. I'd have a hard time pounding my Bible anyway; it's on my iPad. I'm modern, in tune with the times, cool, phat, trendy, tony. I go about e-reading the Good Book.

But the trend that worries me is the scourge that inundates all of us each year at this time. It's not that we've forgotten about the real meaning of Christmas; that's just a mumble-de-peg excuse we allocate to soothe our wounded souls. The actual reason is that we've forgotten the real meaning of humanity. The real meaning of ourselves.

This is a tough subject. It's easier to talk about computers. I'd rather be telling you how to make your laptop's battery last longer.

But laptops and batteries and dolls and Xboxes are things. Toys we give away are things. Diamond and pearl bracelets are things.

"Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy," the Good Book on my iPad says.

Not "good tidings of great things." Not "a good list of great gifts." Not "presents under the tree of great importance."

The word they heard that day so long ago was "joy."

There's a funny thing about joy. It's not something you can touch. It's not hardware. You don't get it at a store. Or from Amazon. Or in a box tied with ribbons.

You get it in your heart. It comes from a place you can't see and can't touch. You can't buy it.

But you can give it. In fact, that's the only thing you can do with joy. If you hide it, it's not joy any more. If you bundle it up and try to store it away, it melts back into despair. If you ignore it, you quickly forget what life is really all about.

Oh, I know. You've got all those presents unwrapped by now. The kids are off playing with stuff. With things.

So now you have time to do something.

Call someone you know. Try these words: "I felt so full of joy I just wanted to share it with you."

That's another funny thing about joy. It's a wonderful last-minute gift. Nobody will suspect you couldn't find that coffee maker or that red and blue tie.

Merry Christmas. May it be full of joy.