Recently I was teaching our Level 7 Speaking class and I asked them this question, “What is your favorite American Holiday, and why?” In that class were students from France, Brazil, Japan, Korea, China, Thailand, Holland, and Saudi Arabia. One student from Taiwan said, “My favorite American holiday is Christmas because I can actually feel the ‘Christmas Spirit.’ I can’t describe exactly what I mean, but around Christmas time I feel the warmth, the kindness, and the peace of American people.” As an American, I knew exactly what this student meant.
American college students like Christmas because that usually means the end of a hard semester of reading assignments, group projects, exams, and final papers. Christmas is the time for a break from school that can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months. It’s a time when students usually return to their hometowns to spend the holidays with family and friends.
American children love Christmas time because it means Santa Clause will be coming by their house on Christmas Eve with a bag full of presents. One of the most exciting feelings for American children is waking up Christmas morning, jumping out of bed, rushing to wherever the Christmas tree is and discovering gifts of different shapes and sizes with OUR name on them. I got one of my greatest Christmas gifts when I was about 7 years old – my very own Red Rider BB gun! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a long skinny package under our Christmas tree. I knew exactly what it was. The year was 1979, and back then my neighborhood was surrounded by groves of lemon trees. I used to run threw those lemon groves all day until it got too dark to see what I was shooting at. I imagined myself to be some rough and tough cowboy on the western frontier on the hunt for giant buffalo or wild turkey. I mostly ended up shooting rusty old coke cans and cardboard boxes. Anyways, Christmas is a magical time for American children.
But the true meaning of Christmas is not about shopping, getting cool gifts, or taking a break from school. The heart and true meaning of Christmas can only be discovered by looking at the birth of baby Jesus over 2000 years ago and trying to understand what this means for the millions of Christians around the world. For them, Christmas is a time to celebrate the wonder of Jesus’ birth. There are many religions in the world, and there are people in America who have no religion at all. But there are a few things that almost everybody wishes for in life, regardless of religion or culture. These things are peace, happiness, meaning, love and hope. These things are at the heart of Christmas, and it is these things that create the true “Christmas Spirit.”
Author: Ty Mussack (Program Coordinator at our Orange County Campus)
Taken from our monthly e-Newsletter