What you can give for Christmas
Richard "Doc" Rioux · December 22, 1996
What would be the best present to receive on Christmas morning? Would it be a return to good health, or an end to financial worries, or a better marriage, or a wanted pregnancy, or a fully paid trip to Paris? Might you want to hit the Lottery, be able to talk with your spouse more than 20 minutes a week, or learn that your little Johnny has tested in the top two percent in national reading scores? How about a new car, some new living room furniture or a diamond necklace?
I've been around long enough to see five decades of Christmas Day come and go. I've witnessed snow blizzards during Christmas week in Massachusetts and 80-degree temperatures in Santa Clarita on Christmas Day. For more than a dozen of those Christmas Days, America was at war " World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Men died. Blood flowed.
I watched this country descend into a Cold War with the Soviet Union, witnessed the Civil Rights movement challenge discrimination in housing and employment, experienced a president and later his brother murdered, and observed the communications revolution bring what's happening in almost every part of the world into my living room through television.
Some parents have a lot to give materially, while others have very little to spend on toys, clothes and candy. One of the things my wife and I have tried to give to our children on Christmas Day every year, besides presents and things, is some appreciation of who they are and what they are becoming.
After all is said and done and all the presents have been opened and admired, it's what goes on between parent and child at a spiritual and emotional level that truly counts on Christmas Day.
What could be more valuable than hugs, kisses, and words of praise? Gather around with your children the night before Christmas, hold them close, tell them stories about times long past, the happy moments when things seemed good and hope filled the air.
Tell your children what you like about them, that you were happy when they were born, and that you are looking forward to watching them grow up and be dads and moms too. If you're a Christian, talk about Jesus Christ and how he loved and protected his children, healed the sick and wanted everyone to do good things for one another.
Christmas is about birth, new life, the transmission of hope and unconditional love. It's about turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, yams and cranberry sauce. It's about walking under the stars and about angels and wise men from afar. It's about moms cradling babies and dads playing football with neighborhood kids in the park. It's about burying grudges, reaching out to touch someone, helping the poor, visiting the lonely, or calling on a friend or relative you haven't seen for a year.
Have you ever been in real psychic pain? Have you ever been in a horrible situation that seemed irreversible?
You've made a mistake. It's brought to your attention. You hurt someone's feelings and an apology did not fix it. The hurt and anger don't seem to go away no matter what perspective you place the event in.
Christmas is about trying to make things right in a world where truth and justice are not the norm. Human beings and their endeavors are never perfect. There are always mistakes. Sometimes the mistakes are big, sometimes they are small, but there are always mistakes.
Christmas is about peace -- making it and keeping it.
Christmas is about pine trees, old ornaments and twinkling lights. It's about warm smiles, gracious gestures and ringing bells. It's about being grateful for all the children who live in the Santa Clarita Valley and the thousands of volunteers who serve the less fortunate among us. It's about the people in business who decorated their stores in gold tinsel and green garland to share the season's cheer with us. It's about the Christmas tree in front of Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital and men dressed as Santa Claus sitting in big chairs listening to little children asking for important gifts.
I don't want any harm to come to any child on Christmas. My prayer is that every child in this valley will receive something nice, and that we as adults will see to it.
The best Christmas we can hope for is one in which people are genuine and kind toward one another. Let's respect one another, open doors for one another, and say "Thank you" or "You're welcome" to one another. Let's replace the occasional nasty thought about others with true words of joy and peace.
So, to all those I may have somehow or in any way whatsoever offended during this last year, let me say: Merry Christmas!
Dr. Richard Rioux is a resident of Stevenson Ranch. His commentary appears on Sundays.
© 1996, THE SIGNAL -- ALL RIGHTS RESERVED