Every year in December, the world is assailed by the "Christmas spirit": Christmas trees full of lights rise up everywhere; the shops are decorated with vibrant colors; Santa and his reindeer are on standby, with their large packages, on the eaves of houses and buildings; people enter the hustle and bustle, trying to buy the right gifts for family and friends, in a rampant consumerism. There is a kind of frenzy in the city, as if a fever spread to everyone. And as Christmas Day approaches, the frenzy increases and fuels a growing nervousness - people get angrier, less tolerant, traffic becomes a chaos and the insults multiply. In the end, everyone ends up losing patience with Christmas, at some point.
But is this the "Christmas spirit"? What happened to the "Christmas spirit"?
In the calendar of all religions there is a time of the year when humankind turns to itself to ponder its mistakes and successes, to celebrate life, to cultivate generosity and compassion, and to try to become spiritually elevated. It is as if each year corresponds to one more step to rise, to come closer into the light.
Christmas represents the birth date of Christ, and it is therefore the celebration of a birthday. Symbolically, birthdays are moments to rethink the paths taken and celebrate life. Christmas should be a time of reflection for Christians: a moment of celebration of the birth of Christ, in which we are reminded of his benevolence, compassion, wisdom, forgiveness and love of our neighbors. The Christmas spirit is, at its heart, love in action: it is the practice of kindness and generosity that Christ left us as an inheritance.
And kindness and generosity have no religion. They are universal values that should be cultivated by each of us, because they contribute to making the world a better place.
But it's no use making large donations, or helping half a world, if our heart is full of resentment and anger. Small gestures are worth much more than grand gestures, when people have a pure heart, free from resentment. True generosity comes from the pure souls that have grown through forgiveness and that are untouched by hatred.
The true Christmas spirit is to clean your heart and to love your neighbor – it is to forgive those who hurt you, help those you hate, not to speak ill of others, not to envy the lives of others, heal wounds, overcome resentments, find peace and love within you.
The exchange of gifts is a way of remembering and practicing generosity, but the true Christmas spirit is not to overcome others with gifts, but to fill them with love. That's what we need to get back, and that's what we need to teach our children.