What Are We Truly Celebrating at Christmas?

I’m grateful to have the opportunity here to reflect on Christmas.  It has been such a frenzied last few weeks in Washington, D.C. that I really haven’t had much time to think about it.  I am just getting to my Christmas shopping now.  And that’s the thing: I find far too often that Christmas, for me at least, is overshadowed by the shopping, the cooking, and the preparations. 

Christmas to me should be about family and giving.  After all, we are celebrating the birth of Jesus.  In that birth, we are celebrating the central tenet of the Christian faith: God sacrificed his only child to save us.  Think about that.  Whether you are Christian or not, the enormity of God’s gift is striking.  It’s really almost too great for us as humans to grasp, kind of like asking someone to grasp the size of the universe.  God’s gift is, in a sense, the ultimate gift.  But because that gift is so difficult for us to comprehend, I think it often gets lost among the stockings, the presents, and the Christmas trees.  The whole idea of Christmas, the spirit of Christmas, springs out of that first Christmas gift 2011 years ago.

That is what we celebrate on Christmas.  The gift-giving and the family get-togethers are our attempt to be a part of that Christmas spirit.  We are trying to comprehend in our own little way God’s gift to all of us.  That really is what I see in Christmas.  It’s all about family and giving and trying to emulate God’s selflessness and love.

And that’s also what all the great Christmas movies are about, too.  It’s a Wonderful Life, interestingly based on the short story entitled “The Greatest Gift,” reminds us that George Bailey’s life of love, service, and sacrifice is what the Christmas spirit is all about.

That is why I fought so hard this week to allow Members of Congress to say Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah in their official mail.  I sent a bipartisan letter with 61 of my colleagues to Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi asking them to revise the House Franking Commission’s rules that prohibit the use of holiday messages on official mail pieces and email newsletters.

I am not asking to send Christmas cards to everyone in my district.  I would just like to wish constituents who contact me a Merry Christmas and share with them the love, joy, and happiness of that Christmas spirit.

I would also like to take a moment to welcome home and thank our brave service men and women returning from Iraq this Christmas.  America has always had a proud tradition of honoring our soldiers during the Christmas season.  I think we do this partly because of the family celebrations, but more so because their sacrifice, valor and courage are the closest things we can find on earth to that first Christmas gift.  “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15: 13).

I would also like to ask everyone to keep our servicemen and women still serving abroad in their hearts and minds this Christmas.  Their courage and selflessness continue to keep our country and our families safe.  And please also remember our veterans and our soldiers who have given the last full measure of devotion and will not be coming home this Christmas.  This great country of ours would not be the shining beacon of freedom it is today without their sacrifice.

I would like to wish everyone a joyous Christmas among friends and family and a happy New Year.

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”