I know that each of you who are reading these Christmas greetings have your own traditions and activities during this season. Some traditions are religious in nature while others may have a more secular tone. Whatever your method of celebrations, good wishes and hopes are on the way from City Hall. I hope your Christmas will be filled with smiles. Smiles are hard right now, in light of Newtown, Conn., as that tragic lunacy could have happened anywhere. But, I expect to see a lot of smiles anyway. Think about your growing up time and smile. Think about the fact that the economy is slowly recovering and smile. Just think of Christmas Dinner and smile. Perhaps we are smiling because we are sure that our family get-together will be well attended this year. Perhaps it’s just because of the season. Thinking about the aromas of the kitchen during Christmas, brings a smile to my face. What could be better than three holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year, within just a little more than a month?
Of course, the anticipation of little children looking for a visit that brings them a gift will bring smiles to their faces. And those little smiles should put a great big smile on our faces as well. Hold those little smiles close to your heart this year and ever.
In my own religious tradition, I often think about the Biblical story of the birth of Christ. Most of us have heard the story from childhood, but it still affects me. I think about the shepherds looking after their sheep up in the hills near Bethlehem. Think about that dark night—no electric street lights in Bethlehem. Maybe there was a gentle glow off in the distance. Remember there were many people in Bethlehem on that night because of the census procedure, a government program that didn’t end the way it started out.
Shepherds settling down with their flocks were startled and terrified when an angelic messengers appeared to announce God’s gift to people. Can you imagine the brilliance of that moment? Light like no living man or woman had ever seen! Scared the shepherds almost out of their minds. Think of their smiles when they looked down on the baby announced to them.
Even at Christmas we are reminded of all the evil in the world. But this Christmas, I hope the Prince of Peace will raise your spirits and put a smile on your face. All us little children everywhere will be listening for the “patter and prancing of each little hoof” on the roof, so I’ll close with the final words of Clement Moore’s poem for his children during Christmas of 1822, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”