Two of the recurrent themes among the Christmas messages from area clergy is one of sustaining giving and one of healing.
Christmas is a Christian holiday marking the birth of Jesus Christ. Over the years, traditions both religious - nativity scenes, Midnight Mass - and secular - Santa Claus, gift-giving - have converged to make our present-day Christmas.
We have often encouraged people to give - of time and money - to help out those less fortunate. We thank those who have been so generous with both and acknowledge the many who have made the Christmas celebration merry for the few. For example, through their generosity, the Salvation Army of Brown County was able to hand out 2,900 food baskets to families and those unable to leave their homes. They gave out toys to more than 6,000 children. Last year, 26,000 were distributed.
But we hope this charitable giving occurs throughout the year and not just around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, because the need is year-round.
It seems natural for giving and remembering to intensify around Christmas for it's a time when we're generous to our faith, friends and family, and to those we know only by need, not by name. And while year-round giving is an ideal, it's one we should aspire to.
One of the other Christmas messages from the clergy was for healing. Whether the grief is personal, like the death of a loved one, or shared, like the Dec. 14 murders of 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Conn., the pain from these losses is profound. Healing and finding comfort in one's faith are essential to honoring the loss but not letting it take away one's spirit.
In a year dominated by divisive politics, an economy that robbed many of jobs and terrible tragedies, it's important to remember the good in our lives and to remember that Christmas is often viewed as a symbol of a new beginning.
As 2012 fades and 2013 rises, let's remember the needs of others as well as our own needs.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.