Paramhansa YoganandaWhen Christmas comes, people usually think of buying gifts for their loved ones. A few think of the beauties of Christmas music and church services. But most people revel in the festivity of the Christmas tree, with its glimmering tinsel and the gifts around it.

It’s good to celebrate the birth of Christ with songs, dinners, and the exchange of gifts; but if material festivity becomes the only purpose of all the Christmas celebration, it’s a pity, and nothing is gained. We must remember that on Christmas Day we should exchange not only useful gifts, but gifts that remind us of the true meaning of Christmas.

Let us learn how to make our celebration of Christmas a real commemoration of the holy life of Christ, to make it a spiritual and uplifting experience.

The original meaning of most religious symbols and holy days is usually forgotten. Most people think of Christmas as an ordinary festivity and forget Christ, the master of ceremonies. As in a movie, the attention of the audience is on the story, and not on the music; so in Christmas entertainment, the attention is on the material celebration-and Christ, though a most necessary part, is pushed into the background.

We should rejoice that such a holy Being as Christ was given to serve as an ideal of perfection for deluded mankind to follow. Indifferent, unconscious honor shown to Him will not do any good. Christmas should be so used that it may materially, mentally, and spiritually give us at least a new impetus to follow in the path of Christ with the beginning of the new year.

Take your consciousness from the pitfalls of material festivities and enter the secret door of silence with closed eyes to behold the vast altar of peace spread eternally above, beneath, to the left and to the right, in front and behind, within and without.

Share your gifts (material, mental and spiritual) with the less fortunate on Christmas. This will make your holiday a real one. The gifts need not be expensive but practical ones: durable clothing (new or used) for those who need it, canned and dried foods for people who find them difficult to obtain in their countries, a friendly visit to the physically afflicted, a word of comfort to the depressed, and spiritual manna to those who are seeking the love of God. You can help distant as well as local people in these ways.

Be ambitious for God. Keep seeking Him through meditation and keep working for Him. Christ and the great ones showed through exemplary living that it can be done. So follow their footsteps quietly and humbly. God bless you always. May your every day become a Christmas of ever-new joy, love, peace, and wisdom.