Of all the Christmases I have experienced, it still amazes me there are so many people who hate the occasion.
The very thought of it brings fear to some, and that is very evident. Most of them are also reluctant to talk about their feelings, so it makes empathizing with them difficult.
Many were young men who were mentally and physically abused by their fathers and mothers.
The same applied to the young women, with the added trauma of sexual abuse.
The one that really stood out for me was the young woman (a girl at the time), who for a few years, spent Christmas Eve and sometimes all of Christmas Day, hiding anywhere her father could not find her.
His drinking would put him into a dangerous and fearful frame of mind. Past beatings had taught her to avoid him at all costs, thereby destroying the Christmas spirit.
Having grown up in a good home, these types of stories came as a shock, because the one sentiment that was displayed the most at Christmastime, especially in our home, was one of love and affection, and that is what I was used to.
It was our faith and what the real Christmas message is all about that gave us our reason to look for the positive side of the season.
In our home, we have the tradition of watching two particular movies that remind us what we celebrate every year at this time.
The first one is Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, and the second one is The Nativity Story.
Both films touch the heart because they emphasize the hope we have, or can have. For without hope, living has little meaning.
When I used to sing in different groups, one of the favourite pieces of music was one that I did with the Red Deer College choir, which was Handel’s Messiah, the Christmas portion.
It was difficult to sing, but oh, so beautiful. Now, it’s one of the pieces I always listen to at Christmas.
Why do I mention these things? Not because our life was so perfect, but because we have learned whatever life can throw at us, we still have so much to look forward to.
Face it, there are a lot of happenings and events that tend to throw a wet blanket on most of us, so to have something as positive as the Christmas story to take us through these rough times is a bonus many enjoy and hang on to.
For two to four weeks during the Christmas season, every time we make a purchase or have any interaction with folks, we are sent on our way with well wishes for a Merry Christmas or happy holiday.
There seems to be a renewed energy that transforms people’s faces and attitudes that makes these interactions more pleasant.
This Christmas energy, as I call it, remains the same in good times or bad. This tells me the main driver for this energy is hope and the pursuit of it. Many are in desperate need of hope, and so my sincerest wish is they find it.
We are facing increasingly hard times and it is very easy to get in a slump over it all, but the one thing Christmas teaches us is there is hope to be had.
For that very reason, my family and I wish a healthy measure of that hope and joy to each and every one of you.
Merry Christmas and a hopeful new year.
Chris Salomons is a retired Red Deer resident with a concern for the downtrodden.