What Does This Christmas Mean to You?
Before you determine what this Christmas means to you, let me tell you what Christmas means to me.
As we age, and I am in now in my 6th decade, the meaning of Christmas is more vivid and profound each year. I welcome the creation of new memories with my family, while maintaining fond memories of specific Christmas Days gone in the past.
Do you have any historical memories that stand out?
Here are a few Christmas memories that stand out to me:
- My late father, Freddie, worked for the post office and was dead tired throughout the Christmas season. In fact, he hated Christmas for that reason. On the other hand, no one loved Christmas more than my mother. That said, as a child on Christmas morning, after the presents were handed out, both parents crashed.
- My late Uncle Wally’s baloney. He always brought a huge, long hot dog looking piece of baloney our family would eat for the next six months.
- One year, my dad wanted golf clubs for Christmas. So, he purchased a new set and hid them in the attic. My mother, who worked very hard, decided to surprise my dad with a set of new golf clubs, the same clubs he hid. When she was going to hide her golf club present for him, she found the present he was going to give himself. The rest is history.
- On an annual basis for many years, on the night before Christmas Eve, my late Aunt Fanny would throw her annual party for my relatives. Everyone came and it was a wonderful event. She was the glue in holding our larger family together. One time, this dinner event was on a riverboat!
- Participating in the annual Christmas Eve/Christmas rituals. At its height, we attended at least four mandatory events hosted by relatives. We knew exactly what to expect at each location as these scenarios never changed. That was the beauty of the rituals
- My late father-in-law, Papaw Jim, was always cooking oysters for Christmas dinner. For every three oysters he fried, only two made the table!
- My late mother in-law Scottie would spend time to create framed certificates for each member of the family. She would have each person stand out as she said something positive about them during the year. My nieces and nephews especially cherished Mammaw’s Certificates!
- The year that my car died in below zero weather in Indiana as we were leaving for West Virginia, which was our annual primary Christmas stop. My wonderful neighbors packed our kids, their kids, their dog, and thousands of presents in their car, to take both families to Louisville, Kentucky, so I could obtain the last rental car available to drive to West Virginia for Christmas.
- Watching old Christmas home movies. When video cameras were hot in the early 90s, for 10 years, I created Christmas Videos that showed family highlights on video during the year leading up to Christmas. The family watched these as part of our Christmas event. I cherished this piece of family history.
- As I walk down the steps in my late mother’s house, I experience the typical sights, sounds and smells of the Christmas season. That said, since my late mother, Betty loved Christmas so much, her basement looks never changed as her Christmas Tree remained up 365 days a year.
- During my recent 10-year history of work with The Salvation Army as an employee, my precious wife Cindy continues to handle the entire load of buying and wrapping presents, handling the Christmas meal arrangements, sending Christmas cards plus everything else that dealt with Christmas. I never had time to help her as I was working many hours of overtime to help others. In fact, I barely had time to secure a few last-minute gifts for her!
According to Day Translations, Christmas is a time to celebrate. There are parties, spending plus fast-paced hustle and bustle. For many, it is just about having a good time and sharing material things.
There are additional thoughts that should be noted about Christmas.
It is just not about presents but to celebrate the birth of our Creator. It is time to spend with family and thank God for our blessings. It is about helping underprivileged people enjoy the holidays. It is a time to give back to the community. It is a time to reflect on what is truly important in life. It is time to make others happy, appreciate family, share love and gratitude.
It is important that older generations explain to younger generations that Christmas is not just for them to receive expensive gifts. It is a time for everyone to give thanks for the blessings we share and have for others. Christmas has a different meaning for each person. Collectively, strive to love each other and create special memories.
Time passes so quickly. Appreciate those in your life as they will be gone one day.
Christmas means for me, a time to finally put on the brakes and relax. I intend to enjoy family, friends and take a few moments to celebrate life. Appreciate what you should be thankful for and give gifts that are meaningful to others.
In most cases, the gift itself is the thought that counts. Make everyone feel important and share your joy and love with them. Watch old and new Christmas movies and relive past holiday memories through old home movies and home videos with your children. Retell fond memories that can be shared with future generations.
What does this Christmas mean to you? If you stop and take the time to really focus, you may obtain a greater appreciation going into the holiday. Smile and share the joy of living with others.
Strive to promote the concept of philanthropy, which is an idea, event or action that is done to better humanity.
I wish for all of you, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy. He has maintained a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation for three decades.