Last year the Chicago Tribune asked for letters describing the greatest "holiday" gift we ever received. I am reposting this year the letter I sent in reply.
I would love to share with all of you the best holiday gift I have ever received. I received this gift as a child, and have cherished this gift for more than thirty years. This gift has given meaning to both my joys and my troubles. If this gift were to be lost or tarnished, I would be most desolate. The smallest child can use this gift. Actually, we could all learn from the smallest child how to best utilize this gift. I can share this gift with the whole world, as much of it as I possess, and never have less of it for myself. This gift is the gift of faith.
The holiday I celebrate is Christmas, so my faith is in Jesus Christ. It is His birthday I rejoice in. For me, He is the great gift this holiday season, and every holiday season, and each day in between every holiday. That God has given the gift of His own Son, in itself humbles me. I was not blessed with a child, but you could bet if I had been, I would not have wanted him to sacrifice his own material well being, his own comfort, his own life really, for the good of others. The Father God giving us His only begotten Son demonstrates the love He has for all mankind, the love we ought to try to give each other if we truly love Him. While we could never match His love, doing our best to love others for His sake is all the thanks we can offer for so perfect a gift.
I do believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I do believe that by emphasizing this belief more than the tangible aspects of Christmas, my parents gave me the greatest gift: belief in God. They took me to Mass, and nurtured my sense of wonder as I looked upon the crèche. They shared their belief in one greater than the highest official in the greatest of lands. No power on earth is greater than His. No love on earth is greater than His. It is His love that gives dignity to all people.
I know that there are other holidays celebrated this year by people who do not celebrate Christmas, or believe in it as I do. Hanukkah celebrates a great miracle done by the Creator to save His chosen people. Ramadan, which took place earlier this year, is a time of fasting and seeking God’s guidance. I must leave it to others to better explain these holidays, and suffice it to say that they too are about faith in God. I think the greatest gift to give others and oneself for the holidays is to remember the etymology of the word holiday. It comes from the words holy day. Sharing the holiness of our holy days is the greatest holiday gift any of us can offer anyone.
To all who read this, I wish Happy Holy Days. Merry Christmas. Much love to you!