Niagara Gazette

December 25, 2012

BRADBERRY: Keeping the Spirit year round

By Bill Bradberry
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — For many Christmas is over once their gifts are opened; for some, it’s just the beginning.

Of course, traditions vary from family to family, culture to culture, religion to religion; some exchange gifts on Christmas Eve, some celebrate for days, some don’t acknowledge or celebrate Christmas at all, some can’t afford to participate in the tradition while others tend to completely overdo it.

But just about everyone, regardless of culture, religion or tradition can catch “the Christmas Spirit.”

Ok, so without pontificating, here’s my take, as inspired by my mother, many years ago on the question; Just what is the “Christmas Spirit”?

It’s the spirit of graciously giving, and receiving; it has little to do with material things except as expressions of actual appreciation.

Corny as it sounds, Christmas is about love, peace and understanding.

But you could not convince me of that when I was a kid; to me and my siblings, Christmas was all about the toys.

When we awoke from our shallow sleep one Christmas morning more than 50 years ago, a scale model train was chugging around the base of the Christmas tree barely missing the Easy-Bake Oven that Santa (aka Mom and Dad) had carefully staged for me and my sisters to discover while they slept-in, no doubt exhausted from a late night of back breaking Elf work.

Lined up near the front door, a row of bicycles and tricycles, each equipped with shinny bells and squeeze-horns; their distinctive, if not annoying sounds triggered every time one of us stumbled through the rubble of Christmas stocking goodies and shredded wrapping paper to honk a horn and ding the bells adding to the shrill cacophony of a joyous children’s pre-dawn Christmas morning.

Sleepy eyed, tired and weary, having only moments earlier laid down their heads to rest after a Christmas Eve that included Midnight Mass with the family, Mom and Dad emerged from their room to sit and watch the fruits of their labor.

By 1958 the words and music to the Christmas song “Little Drummer Boy” composed by Katherine K. Davis, Henry Onorati and Harry Simeone began to reinforce Mom’s message in a way that we could comprehend and relate to; the words were certainly easy enough, especially the repetitive the “pa rum pum pum pum” that followed every stanza:


“Come they told me

A new born King to see

Our finest gifts we bring

To lay before the King

So to honor Him

When we come.


Little Baby

I am a poor boy too,

I have no gift to bring,

That's fit to give the King,

Shall I play for you

On my drum?


Mary nodded,

The ox and lamb kept time,

I played my drum for Him

I played my best for Him

Then He smiled at me

Me and my drum.”


That image of a poor boy with nothing more to give than his talent, buoyed by the mesmerizing lyrics, struck a chord, and has ever since, stuck in my mind establishing a lifetime reminder that it is not just the material value of the gift; it is the gesture of giving and the ability to accept the gesture, more than the gift itself that matters.

That is the Spirit.

And so, as this year, freshly filled with pain and recent sorrow passes, let us all be filled with the Spirit and give and receive the gift of comfort when and where it is so desperately needed, not only at Christmas time, but all year round.


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