It may well be that there are many expressions of what we are after, and we need not insist on a single definition.
Maybe the place to look is at the behavior that results from a pursuit of the Christmas spirit as illustrated in the following short stories from real life.
One of my favorite stories is about a missionary teaching in Africa. Before Christmas he had been telling his native students how Christians, as an expression of their joy, give one another presents on Christ’s birthday.
On Christmas morning, one of the natives brought the missionary a seashell of lustrous beauty. When asked where he had discovered such an extraordinary shell, the native said he had walked many miles to a certain bay, the only spot where such shells could be found.
“I think is was wonderful of you to travel so far to get this lovely gift for me,” the teacher exclaimed.
His eyes brightening, the native answered, “Long walk, part of gift!” Was it the Christmas spirit that led him to do what he did?
Author John R. Sisley Jr. wrote this: “The woman who slouched down in the front seat of the bus distressed me. Her hair was matted, her face dirty, and though it was a cold night outside, she was wearing only a flimsy cotton dress and a blanket through which she had made holes for her arms.
“What should I do, I wondered. She was so obviously in need, and at Christmas time, too. Wasn’t there some shelter I could direct her to, some place where she’d get all the attention she required? No, I finally reasoned, her problems were too much for me.
“As I pondered – and rejected – possible solutions to the woman’s plight the bus came to a stop. A young man, poorly dressed but neat, rose to leave. He had got out and the bus had started up again before I really noticed what he had done. He had slipped off his black knit gloves and laid them on her lap.”
Could we say that whatever made the young man do what he did was “the Christmas spirit”? Do these stories make you want to continue your own quest for that spirit? Merry Christmas!
THE REV. DAN MCCALL IS THE MINISTER OF PASTORAL CARE AT FAIRVIEW PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN NORTH AUGUSTA.