Christmas cheer means different things to different people, but usually has a “spreading it” connotation. Wanting to spread happiness and joy, for so many, goes hand in hand with the Christmas season. It’s about making family, friends, associates, and even those we don’t know happy, doing nice things for others, having an overall joyous attitude and demeanor during this season.
Jesus exhorts His disciples to “be of good cheer” several times in the Bible. Using modern vernacular, we could say Jesus was spreading the message about the spiritual power that’s in being of good cheer.
I think all Christians have felt at one time or another they were sinking, that they could not rise above the waves or get through the storms of life. The Bible tells us Jesus walked on the water, which basically freaked the disciples out. Their imaginations ran wild thinking a ghost was about to set upon them in the midst of the storm. Matthew 14:26-27 [KJV] ~ 26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. How on earth could they be of good cheer? They’re boat was about sink in the storm? Yet, Jesus didn’t say to them, “Row harder,” or “Turn the boat eastward.” He said “be of good cheer” and “be not afraid.” Deciding to be of good cheer no matter what the circumstances is the spiritual act of making a firm internal commitment to God and to ourselves. I suspect that once we get into the good cheer mode, it’s a lot easier to ‘be not afraid’. It’s fear that often paralyzes us.
Have you noticed how angry people are today? I sometimes wonder why so many people have anger as their default. Don’t they want to be happy? Why wouldn’t they want to be happy? It’s a mystery to me, but I suspect they have a wrong assumption about life. We’re all going to have troubles in life and some people feel they’re so special that they shouldn’t have those troubles. It’s kind an overall, pervasive societal notion that things should be made easier, noncompetitive, less harsh. The reality is life is tough and harsh many times. They can protest and erect a physical a safe zone on campus, but they can’t create a safe zone in life. Ain’t gonna happen.
For Christians there is a safe zone. We are a peculiar people, set apart. We live in a kind of “Jesus bubble” and in that bubble (call it the Blessing, the favor of God, or the grace of God, if you will) we are sheltered from life’s storms. However, we do have spiritual guidelines so that we don’t walk out of this spiritual safe zone. We are called to love God, self, and others. We’re called to be of good cheer and to have joy, among other things. These are not mere emotions, they are dynamic spiritual forces that dispel fear.We’re called to spread this fear-breaking joy and cheer around…not to hide our light under a bushel. Something of historical interest from the American White House at Christmas, which traditionally has been used by First Families to spread cheer, joy, and even courage in the nation, especially in times of trouble.
In 1958 Mamie Eisenhower had 27 decorated Christmas trees in the White House. In 1961, First Lady Jackie Kennedy began the tradition of selecting a theme for the main White House Christmas Tree. Since the early 1970s the White House has included an enormous gingerbread house as part of it’s Christmas decor. In 1971, under Pat Nixon’s direction the confection was an A-Frame. Under Betty Ford’s direction in 1975, to honor America’s upcoming bicentennial celebration, the National Christmas Tree was decorated with 4,600 red, white, and blue ornaments. On the top of the 45-foot blue spruce sat a 4-foot gold and green replica of the Liberty Bell, donated by General Electric. The hostage crisis in Iran dominated the holiday celebrations of 1979 and 1980. In 1979 Rosalyn Carter’s National Christmas Tree and 50 surrounding trees each showed but a single light, one for each of the hostages. The other lights on the trees would be turned on when the hostages were released. But the following year the hostages were still in Iran. The Carters turned on the Christmas tree lights that year for 141 seconds. One second for each day the hostages had been held. For seven of the eight Christmases Nancy Reagan was in the White House she arranged for residents of the drug treatment program in Virginian and Maryland Second Genesis to decorate the White House trees. In 1985, Second Gensis made 1,500 ornaments from holiday cards sent to President and Mrs. Reagan in 1984. In 1989, out of Barbara Bush’s concern for national literacy, the theme for Christmas presened a “Storybook Christmas”. The White House staff created figures of famous storybook characters such as Peter Pan, Curious George, and Alice in Wonderland, and underneath the trees were books tied up with red bows. In 1993 renown American quilting artisans contributed squares at Mrs. Clinton’s request to make a green velvet skirt for the White House tree. In 2001, Laura Bush oversaw decorating the White House after the national tragedy of 9/11. The theme that year was ‘Home For The Holidays’. One highlight were scale models of all of the American presidents’ homes. The 18-foot White House Christmas Tree, which was grown in the mountains of Central Pennsylvania, was decorated with hundreds of original ornaments depicting historic homes and places of worship throughout the United States. Michelle Obama’s 2015 theme is ‘A Timeless Tradition’. The decorations throughout the White House inspire visitors to celebrate long-held traditions while also creating new memories.
Wishing you a blessed and merry pre-Christmas holiday season filled with joy, from the Crime Fictionista, who is on the road to greater greater cheer, gladness, laughter, and who hopes to spread this good cheer all year long.