188th Wing, Arkansas ANG   Right Corner Banner
Join the Air National Guard

News > Commentary - No matter how you spend the holidays, celebrate the blessings in your lives
No matter how you spend the holidays, celebrate the blessings in your lives

Posted 11/28/2012   Updated 11/28/2012 Email story   Print story


Commentary by Lt. Col. Tom Smith
188th Fighter Wing chaplain

11/28/2012 - FORT SMITH, Ark. -- It's December. When you read those words, what comes to mind? Wintry winds, cold temperatures, possible snowfall, a warm fire, hot chocolate and marshmallows? Colored lights and decorations, Christmas music playing in the stores, the exchanging of gifts? Sitting in a box stand, hunting "the big 'un" or a duck blind, hoping to bag a few mallards? Well, our answer depends upon our focus and background.

As you read this, there are some who are counting (or fearing) the days to the long-advertised "end of the world" on Dec, 21 as (supposedly) predicted by the Mayan calendar. Others, such as some atheists, Native Americans, Aboriginal groups, etc., will be celebrating what's known as the Winter Solstice -- the day of the year when the nighttime is longest and will occur on Dec. 22 this year.

Buddhists will be celebrating Bodhi Day on Dec. 8 when they believe Buddha sat beneath a Bodhi tree (type of fig tree) and achieved enlightenment in 596 B.C. Some in Iran will celebrate Shabe-Yalda on the eve of the Winter Solstice by sitting around a low, square table and telling stories, reading poetry, eating watermelons, pomegranates and special dried fruit while lighting a bonfire outside.

Those of the Jewish faith will celebrate Hanukkah, also known as the "Feast of Dedication" and "Festival of Lights," which is an eight-day observance that recalls a miracle in the Jerusalem temple during the Maccabean rebellion against the Romans.

And, since 2004 there will be an increasing number of agnostics, atheists, deists, free-thinkers, etc., who'll celebrate most of the elements of Christmas, but will focus on Kris Kringle, Rudolph, the elves, etc., as they greet each other by saying "Merry Krisma."

For me, as a Christian chaplain, December's the time to celebrate Christmas, the time of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem. While I would agree that his birth most likely occurred earlier in the year since the "shepherds were out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night" (Luke 2:8) -- and they couldn't have done that in frigid conditions without grass -- what's important is the event, not the time of its occurrence.

Ever since I was a small child, Christmas has always fascinated me. Although I no longer sneak a "secret shake" of a package under the tree to try and guess what's inside, I still look forward to the exchanging of gifts. And, even though I no longer leave two cookies and a glass of milk out on the table for Santa, I still look forward to getting up on Christmas morning, gathering around the tree and reading Luke's version of the Christmas story to my gathered family.

There's still something about Christmas that stirs me to the depths of my soul. When I think about God's son being born in a manger out behind a crowded inn, it moves me. When I think about the reason for his coming ... the suffering he would endure and how the heavenly father knew what would happen to him before Jesus came (Isaiah 53) ... I can only bow my head in humble silence and whisper, "Thank You, Lord."

Here's praying you'll spend some time this month giving thanks for the blessings you received in 2012. I also hope you'll enjoy some special time with family and friends and realize the importance of not taking them for granted as you relate to them with T.L.C. (Tender Loving Care).

That way you can end this year with no regrets and look forward to the coming new year without fear. God bless you.

12/3/2012 3:14:42 PM ET
Krisma Where did you get that from
Eric Riley, Portland OR
Add a comment

 Inside 188WG

ima cornerSearch

Site Map      Contact Us     Questions     USA.gov     Security and Privacy notice     E-publishing  
Suicide Prevention    SAPR   IG   EEO   Accessibility/Section 508   No FEAR Act