There is magic about Christmas, even for non-believers, there is magic. We think of the street lights, the decorated tree, the delicious food and, of course, the presents. Good family time and in this part of the world, a nice long barbecue for there will be no snow, only 90F heat and more. Most of us would be outside under a tree or in the swimming pool. When you walk in the malls (not to be recommended, lots of shoppers and armed robberies) you will find pictures of all the above. It is in general a feel good time where the magic takes place. But I wonder, being me, what would Christmas be without the above, no street lights, no decorated tree, no food and no presents as well as no family to annoy you.
This is my first Christmas alone - the first without Melissa and I will be alone by choice. There is no need for you to feel sorry for me...I could have gone to friends and I could have gone to "family" but I choose not to. I realise something - I want to be alone with my thoughts. Some things in life are better done and dealt with alone. I do not need hypocrites around me at such times. They would only serve to exasperate me.
I realised that Christmas is not about the fast talking merchant making record money with unnecessary crap he sells every Christmas and will do next festive season as well. It is not about the silly lights and the surplus presents or the "once a year let us be all family and friends now" moments...no it is about our Lord. It is about the road to Calvary and the final victory over satan and whatever is wrong in this world. It is too important to surrender to the glamour of the commercial lights.
We all know this, of course. I guarantee you if you ask any believer he will explain the above to you but I wonder if he really gets what he is explaining so glibly? Would he ever be that poor and struggling that he knows there will not be any presents anyway this year, or the year before, or the one before that. That he expects nothing and actually prays for none because he would be unable to give anything in return and suffer even more humiliation. There are some amongst us who simply don't see Christmas as anything materialistically special, it is mean nothing to them in that sense. The rest of us claim we "get Christmas" but our deeds show we are still wandering in the dark, lost. We still fall for the glamour, the lights, the presents, the decorated tree, and the feel good moments. We are trying to buy happiness.
Now let me also say, if that is you, and you are lucky enough (actually it is by grace only, not your own wallet) to have all the above in terms of the lights, the tree, the gift and family, accept my word I am happy for you. I hope that you will never know the other side where such things have no meaning to you because you are either too ill to care or too poor to be bothered or too alone to make sense of it. I am beginning to understand that Christmas is a religious day and not the day of lies which it has become. Of course you can buy happiness, let no-one tell you different for they are talking liberal (all rich people anyway) nonsense. But it is a fleeting moment of happiness that money can buy you, it will never last and the really good things are for free. Take for instance the love of a good woman; that cannot be bought by money. It is available for free if you are worthy enough to find and keep it.
The older you become the more you realise that the really important things in life are precious and beyond money. I was thinking the other night when I missed Melissa too much to sleep that even if I had Bill Gates type of money, my wife would still be in heaven and I stuck on earth. It would have made no difference in the end. So what does this glamour and lights actually mean when you think about it? Zilch, electricity and every apparatus (must have items according to the seller of such things) is a relatively new invention. Do you really need that gift which you bought to trade for love which should have been freely bestowed on you? In two months from now a new product will be out. A new model will sway you into fleeting happiness again. It is a wasted exercise in futility.
Go out and enjoy your Christmas, build your memories and be with your loved ones for you have no idea if this one is your last together. And remember when it comes down to it...it is only above the love of God to you. That is what Christmas is about, nothing else; don't be side-tracked by the merchants. Merry Christmas to all of you - enjoy the day.
Koos Kotze is a former member of the South African Police Force. He served between 1985 and 1991 primarily as a sergeant in the Pretoria Flying Squad. During his police years, he was awarded the South African Police Medal for Combating Terrorism twice besides lesser awards. After leaving the Police Force he obtained the law degrees B Iuris & LLB at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa) and was a commercial law attorney for eight years. These days he is the owner of JKLS Africa and Associates, a specialist legal consultancy which specializes in hostage survival training and reducing legal risk in Sub Saharan Africa. He wrote several books on business, law, counter-terrorism and security issues. At times he is asked to participate on the Voice of America regarding legal forensic matters. Koos is a widower and lives in Bloemfontein, South Africa.