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Just What Exactly is the Christmas Spirit?

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Posted 10-06-2010 at 01:03 PM by Jeff Westover

Every time I send out a new newsletter I hold my breath. Over the years, the Merry News has grown to 50,000 subscribers.

I am always a little shocked at some of the feedback we receive when we send that many emails out. The sheer number, of course, means there will be work to do. You can't cram thousands of people into a building without having the bathrooms ready, you know? Even still, I get surprised at how some people respond.

The software we're using tells me where a subscriber came from -- their IP address, their approximate physical location, the website they subscribed from, the time, date and even browser they were using when they signed up. I see all that. So when they write the darndest things I just have to laugh.

Some, of course, claim they never subscribed at all and would YOU GUYS QUIT SPAMMING ME ALL THE TIME! (This was just our 2nd newsletter since last Christmas). Sigh.

Others will write: What are you talking about Christmas for? It's still more than two months away!!!!! (uh....that's what we do).

Then I get stuff like this:

Please unsubscribe me from your crap. There isn't anything the least Christmasy about it.

Or, like this:

Your newsletter has nothing to do with Christmas. Get it away from me.

Or, like this:

There is no Spirit of Christmas anywhere in this newsletter and nowhere on your site. Unsubscribe me.

Now, I learned long ago to have thick skin with this kind of stuff.

My writing experience has skinned me alive on more than one occasion and I've long learned to scab over. Besides, when hiding behind anonymous email addresses it doesn't take much for someone to scare up the bravado needed to act all big and bad.

But it does cause me to ponder the question -- just what is the Christmas spirit?

Can it be found in an email? Can it be passed between two strangers on the Internet? Can it be conveyed in a website?

Well, of course it can.

It can happen wherever two or more people meet. We see it here in abundance all the time.

I suppose, like everything else, it is in the eye of the beholder.

That's why I get as much hate mail-- if not more sometimes -- from people who claim to be "Christians".

If what you post isn't solely about Jesus to them it doesn't convey the spirit of Christmas. And they will rail on you -- in a way I don't think Jesus ever would -- until you "get it".

To be honest, some of the best conversations I have are those who claim to have no faith. Atheists, even.

They will be candid and blunt -- and still wish me a Merry Christmas or reminisce about times past when Christmas was magical to them. Then they will say -- "to each his own, friend."

Tell me: who has the Christmas spirit?

Can it be conveyed by a person who won't hear it until after Thanksgiving has passed?

Can it be shared by someone being critical of Christmas music in July?

Is it felt by those who claim through their purity that they alone understand the spiritual significance of it?

I don't believe the Christmas spirit can be conveyed in a critical tone. I don't care who you are or what you believe. It just can't be done.

And that is because most people are human and they forget the wellspring of what Christmas is really all about. Heck, what life is all about. Some are so blinded by their indignation or self-righteousness that the strength of their conviction is powerfully overwhelmed by the weakness of their behavior.

They do this but the guilt is not theirs alone.

The responsbility lies then upon us to measure our reactions, to forgive with an understanding heart. To turn the other cheek.

The Christmas spirit can be hard, I guess I'm saying.

And it can come so easily if we so choose.
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