FIRST-PERSON: Caught off-guard by Christmas
NAPLES, Fla. (BP) -- At Christmas, regardless of what people believe about the birth of Jesus, all boats rise to the occasion of this special day. Thanksgiving rolls by, the November calendar page turns to December, and we sense a change in the air. Gradual at first, then building until full blown on the big morning itself.
Christmas -- the images and words of Jesus Christ's birth -- affects everyone. He's the star of the show. Some try to leave the theater, but there's no escaping Him at this time of year. Because of this, everyone consciously or unconsciously shares Christ at Christmas -- including His attributes. We often behave differently. Softer. Kinder. Thoughtful of others. A little sentimental. More generous.
I was in line at a Panera restaurant the other day when the man in front of me was advised by the cashier that his coffee had been paid for. When he inquired, he was told that someone had "paid it forward" and that it was "a common thing at Christmas." He didn't know what to say. He was caught off-guard. Maybe he paid it forward the next time he got coffee.
I had dinner recently with a friend who's not a Christian. He told me he had been approached by a homeless man as he filled the gas tank of his rental car. To his own surprise, he handed the man $10 and said, "Merry Christmas. Go get yourself a steak dinner." The next morning at breakfast, my friend's server took a liking to him and comped his breakfast. They were all caught off-guard by Christmas.
I'm at a public library as I write this. I see a woman diligently working on a project. She's sifting through a pile of papers, writing notes on some and placing those into envelopes. How will she spend Christmas? I wonder. What's happening in her life? What does her future hold? I don't usually wonder about strangers. Would I care as much if it wasn't this time of year? Maybe not -- but I did just now. I had a heightened sensitivity to her. I'm not alone in this.
It seems there's more of Christ around Christmas. He's somehow more visible, more present in human interactions. More appreciated. Whatever it is, take it. Give and take Christ at Christmas. All the Christ you can -- in as many ways as you can imagine.
Steve Silver is a retired business executive, the author of New Man Journey, www.newmanjourney.com and the Founder of Men's Golf Fellowship, www.mensgolffellowship.com.