Monday, December 17, 2007

A Festive Interlude

The Spirit of Christmas

The wake of the Celtic Tiger is indeed a dusty, dry, and oftentimes spiritless one. Its dust cloud blurs the vision of communities and chokes the enthusiasm of many for the higher virtues such as the service of others done on a voluntary basis. However, sometimes, when the dust settles, some few good souls come out and attempt to serve even a small libation to those less fortunate who thirst for simple company in a lonely all-too-bleak world.

Once again, I, like many others of my generation, am growing tired of the inevitable round of Christmas parties that pander to appetites of excess whether of food or drink. However, it’s not all naked acquisitiveness and sheer greed. There are the odd few generous and giving souls. In short, these few words were inspired by the generosity and giving of our students at school. While our kids may be rough and oftentimes uncouth and unruly, they are generous to a fault with whatever little they have. This is the festive season, and we teachers and a band of loyal senior students raise money and organize a Christmas party for the old folks or senior citizens of the surrounding area. This is a heart-warming and spirit-lifting enterprise.

Young people do care about the elderly and the less fortunate. This was evidenced by the willingness to help and the cheerful giving of our boys as they raised funds, collected spot prizes, organized caterers, set up the room and decorated it brilliantly, danced with the old folk, sang some songs, served the food and talked to the invited guests in such a caring manner. Such natural goodness is a joy to behold and brings an occasional tear to my eye. St Augustine of Hippo used to say, “God loves a cheerful giver.” Well, there were plenty of cheerful givers last Saturday night at our annual Christmas Party at St Joseph’s from teachers to pupils to parents. Goodness and kindness can be infectious. It has also been said that to give is to receive a thousand times; only when one gives does one appreciate how the good energy or karma of such acts rebounds to the good of the giver in manifold ways, not the least of which is what we may term a very important “feel-good-factor.”

Likewise a timely re-reading of Charles Dickens’s wonderful little seasonal novel A Christmas Carol (1843) is a salutary reminder of the life-strangling and spirit-crushing character of selfishness and meanness. Happily, it’s central character, Ebenezer Scrooge learns before it is too late this salutary lesson when The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present and The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come visit him. In the end, he is converted by the impact of these visions to appreciate the true spirit of Christmas as one of giving, caring and sharing. In short, he has been given an opportunity to repent. Scrooge does so and becomes a model of generosity and kindness. "Many laughed to see this alteration in him, but he let them laugh and little heeded them. His own heart laughed and that was quite enough for him. And it was always said of him that he knew how to keep Christmas well if any man alive possessed the knowledge."

Above I have uploaded a few pictures taken on my mobile phone at our Christmas party

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