Funk on Faith

Readers respond: What’s one word that defines the holidays for you?

What’s your word for the holiday season? For some, it’s family, and sharing traditions.
What’s your word for the holiday season? For some, it’s family, and sharing traditions. dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

Last week I wrote about the one word that evokes the holidays for me.

It changed from PRESENTS and BIKE when I was young and hoped for a purple Schwinn Sting-ray, with a sporty white banana seat and chopper-like handlebars, to FAMILY when I was in my 20s and returned home for the holidays.

Now, at 60, my word is HUMILITY. I find my worth not in possessions or in worldly success or in the size of my ego, but in my relationship with God – a God who, I believe, meets me in my brokenness, in my weakness, in my HUMILITY.

I asked you to tell me the one word that best evokes the holidays for you. And you responded. Here’s a sampling, with a little bit of editing.

FAMILY

We have 14 family members – sometimes 15, if you include my sister in NYC – that assemble for the Christmas holidays. Christmas Eve: 7 fish dinners, and homemade pizzas. Then the family trek to midnight Mass. On Christmas Day: turkey or rib roast with all the fixins’. In our Italian-American tradition, Christmas is all about family and good food.

Peter Augusta, Charlotte

LOVE

It’s the word that puts Christ back in Christmas. What amazing love it took for God to send His son to us. We show others love through our kindness and generosity – whether we make financial donations, give presents or share our special gifts of the heart. Blessing others blesses us.

Sue Ruebens, Charlotte

SHARING

Sharing of yourself through love, abundance, warmth, friendship, music, food, hospitality, prayers, inclusion, invitation, and giving.

Wanda Huntley, Charlotte

LONELINESS

So many suffer loneliness during this time: those without family, far away from family, loss of family, changes in family – like children growing up, getting married and going to in-laws.

I have felt this loneliness, but the season’s message of hope brings me peace. The thought of those struggling inspires me to get beyond myself and offer the gift of prayer and my outstretched hand of “humble” friendship.

Larry Scott, Charlotte

RESOLVE

I resolve to continue to listen to the Christmas story of Christ's birth and not the frantic swirling everywhere about shopping and last-chance sales.

Gayle Kiser, Matthews

CONTENT

Although this is not exactly a holiday word, it is my all-time favorite and I try to live this way year ’round.

Ernestine Howard, 86, Rock Hill.

EMMANUEL

In our service at First Presbyterian in Charlotte, we sang “Oh, Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel.” So I settled on Emmanuel, which means “God with us.” The season is a blessed reminder that God indeed came to earth to be with us.

Amy Woods Brinkley, Charlotte

GRATITUDE

Christmas is time when I feel extremely grateful for my family, my health, my church community, my home here in Charlotte. Grateful for all the Lord has blessed me with.

Helen Katz, Charlotte

SERENITY

When I was 14 I had a little bicycle shop in Belmont. Around Christmas I rebuilt old bicycles and sold them for $19.95. A man came by and put $2 down on one for his boy with final payment due when I delivered it.

On Christmas Eve, I took the bike to his house, but when he came to the door he was crestfallen.

“I been worried to no end. Lost my job two weeks ago and I have nothing to even give to my boy, much less pay you,” he said. “I am so sorry. I know you worked hard on that bike.” He had tears in his eyes.

I went inside. The tiny one room shack had a dirt floor, but was warm from the fireplace. His wife put her sewing needles down and greeted me. The 10-year-old boy, freshly bathed for Christmas Eve, shook my hand. He looked happy and told me Santa Claus was coming.

His father and I stepped outside. I didn’t make much money fixing bikes and this was going to mean a major profit for me.

But I thought about the little boy. “Take the bike,” I told the dad, “and Merry Christmas.”

Tears rolled down his face and down mine.

On my way home that very cold night, with sleet hitting the windshield, a feeling of serenity came over me as the old AM radio played “Silent Night” in German.

Howard Wheeler, Huntersville

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