You don’t have to be Christian to love Christmas.

     We all know the origins of the much-commercialized holiday and how the stories about the birth of Christ evolved from biblical scripture. They are preached in Christian churches and homes everywhere. Regardless of personal beliefs, everyone must admit it is a wonderful story about struggle, beauty and love. After all, who doesn’t rejoice in the birth of a newborn, divine or not?  

     For devout Christians, it provides a time of year to celebrate a momentous event. Non-Christians can, and often do, unite with Christians in celebrating one time of year as a holiday to join families, express love, to exchange symbols of friendship and devotion and to excite children.

     I was raised an only child by a secular mother named Vivien who never read from a bible or preached religion to me. Yet, she was as spiritual as anyone without a label assigned. A table-top Christmas tree adorned our small apartment every December with traditional decorations and an ample supply of presents wrapped below. Dollar values mattered not.

     She included me in the holiday spirit that abounded in schools, shopping places, playgrounds and the homes of friends. I was part of the festivities, parties and the spirit of giving. I learned to sing and play carols, which is some of the most beautiful music on planet Earth.

     She taught, not by her words, but by her actions how important it is to love those who deserve being loved, no matter their religion.

     She taught me the art of giving, to send cards and gifts, however small, to friends and family, whether they be Christians, Jews, atheists, or Hindu, black, white, boy or girl, young and old.

     She taught me it didn’t matter if they sent cards and presents back.

     She taught me the value of love messages, about respect, honor and forgiveness, and that if there was no other time to bestow these things, there always was Christmas.

     Those who choose to openly vilify Christmas fail to understand they serve themselves no useful purpose, for it is not the religion that is derided, it is a spirit of harmony and love, regardless of the origin. And that’s not going away. I am particularly disappointed when company employees are admonished from publicly using the term “ Merry Christmas” and must greet people with “Happy Holiday.” Since when does political correctness apply to a celebration of love?

     Christmas is a time to party, to express joy, to join with others and to share. Whether we realize it or not, we all do it because it is a holiday sanctioned by our government, not because our government is Christian, but because our elected leaders, under President Ulysses S. Grant in 1870, recognized the need for acknowledging a time every year to set aside for sharing love.

     Many cultures celebrate the Christmas holiday, even those with Christian minorities, including Japan where Christianity is small but Christmas trees are decorated and gifts and plentiful.

     I am not Christian, yet I care less if people want to erect displays of the birth of Christ. I see it as a symbol of love and peace, not necessarily of divine spirit. It’s not there to be challenged. We would all do well to listen to the primary message which transcends all peoples of the earth regardless of beliefs: Peace on earth, good will toward man.

     Everyone can learn from that woman named Vivien who did in 1966. After all, Christmas is a holiday of love – and that’s worth celebrating by everyone.  

     Merry Christmas!