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The true soul of Christmas

Christmastime comes once a year but it serves to trigger the "real" feel-good factor in all of us. This factor is so powerful, in fact, that it manages to wash off (at least for a couple of weeks) our political colours, any sort of soft racism and any dissimilar beliefs that haunt us right through the year.

For some of us these festivities will come along to celebrate some prestigious promotion or a hefty bonus. For some others it's the culmination of spending time with their first born and for others it will be the pleasure of being surrounded by their old ones with plenty of goodies and a house full of lovely decorations and a number of carefully-wrapped presents tucked under the tree. In reality, that is all good. After all, we deserve to rest and enjoy the fruits we all work hard for throughout the year.

Having said that, we cannot forget the pains and sufferings that fill the hearts of many Maltese people who, during this time, are either lonely, are recovered in hospital or, worse, were suddenly stricken with the death of a loved one. Being human means understanding the situation by having a positive or negative feeling of the people and events that occur around you and trying to lend a helping hand whenever possible.

The coming of Jesus was meant to bring hope and unite people, not to divide them and turn them into hypocrites. It was also meant to make us understand and celebrate the true meaning of simplicity and modesty and not of materialism and abundance. Just going to church and claiming that you are a Christian does not make you a good person and will definitely not save you a place in heaven. What makes us good persons is the test of everyday life, how we interact with one another and how we deal with our true feelings towards one another.

It is therefore crucial that during this time of joy we spill and share positive energy among the people around us. I'm writing about the same positivity we had when we were children ourselves. Innocence might have melted away from us grown-ups but that does not mean we became immune to the simplicities of life around us and which used to fill our hearts with so much pleasure. Just look at the warm smile of a toddler and you will soon realise all the magic we lost along the way. It is this magic we need to revive if we honestly want to build better relationships with one another.

Of course, real life is much more complicated than that and, sometimes, one cannot control or ignore the ills that fall upon us and make us tense. But many times it's just the crust of pride and the shield of distrust which has formed in our hearts throughout the years that bar us from living and cheering the moment.

At the end of the day, we are only humans, we all make mistakes and we all have our own weight of life to carry. Many times we feel weak in the presence of problems that appear suddenly in our lives. That is why it is very important we use times like these to connect more with one another, open our hearts to more possibilities and delve deep in our souls for that true happiness that used to make us happy with the simple things in life.

Christmas is not about giving presents but about giving love and quality time. By love I mean respect and understanding. I mean care and sincerity and, most importantly, tolerance and forgiveness. In reality, we do not need gifts to be happy but what we do need is that someone beside us who can understand our pains and needs and help us achieve and/or overcome them.

Today's scenario looks more like an outdated reality show about a treasure hunt for the latest ultra-expensive gadget, which shows clearly how low our Christmas spirit and beliefs have sunk. Our kids are being brought up with a materialistic ideology of a two-week pre-Christmas gift bonanza and not being able to really appreciate what Christmas is all about and what it brings in our lives. Instead of realising the dangers we are passing on to our children, who will eventually lead to the murder of the Christmas spirit and its true meaning per se, we are fuelling this process.

I am not here to tell how to educate your own children or to show you how to live your own lives, but my message is more of a call for caution. Giving a present at Christmastime as a sign of love and respect is okay, but making it an annual habit and believing that that is what Christmas is all about is definitely not okay.

The true soul of Christmas is found in the hearts of each and every one of us. Christmas is the good feeling we all experience during that period of the year when we sense we need to give more, love more and be more tolerant. If we can act this way throughout the year, and not only during Christmastime, then we will surely be a better nation living a better life.

All the best to you and your loved ones!

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