In the middle of the Harmattan winds blowing from the North to the South, and the accompanying haze, there comes a joyful season, between late December and the commencement of a New Year in January, Elsewhere on the globe, this is the “bleak mid-Winter” when snow lies on snow all over the place.
Christmas is typically a Christian celebration. In the same breath, it is a very important universal landmark for both Believers and non-Believers on the birth of the Holy Infant, Jesus Christ, after whom the day is named.
In the Christian tradition, the first four weeks of the Harmattan period nearly coincides with Advent which heralds the Christmas-tide. This is a period of patient anticipation of the fulfillment of the promise of Christ’s coming. It is a period for preparing our hearts for the great Gift of God’s only begotten Son.
Waiting for something pleasant to happen, or expecting the arrival of someone on an appointed date or time, can be a tedious experience marked by excitement and suspense. The anticipated event may or may not happen after all. Fortunately, the Nativity was a real occurrence 2012 years ago.
Since the First Nowell, a joyful mood characterizes the Season of Goodwill. This is in conformity to a normal situation for people put aside their affairs and take time to mark important events, by special ceremonies and general merry-making. Children are usually at the centre of the ceremonies.
As far as their means may allow, people may go to certain excesses in expressing their joy. Parties and family-gatherings are usually organized. Exchange of gifts and other symbolic actions including special greetings take place. However, as people observe such significant events, they sometimes tend to take for granted the real meaning of their joyous exuberance.
During the Season of Goodwill, as elsewhere, the Ghanaian winds down for a while. Often there is a lot to eat and drink. We make fun, sing and dance in relaxed ambiance with family members and friends. While we do so this Christmas season, let us continue to portray our cherished ideals by remembering the least-endowed in our communities. Let us share with them the serenity of the birth of Prince of Peace, who gave us the gift of His life and brought light to those who lived in darkness.
It is also common for people to make Resolutions around this time. The need for a fresh start is a natural human value to turn a new leave. The search for a new surge of energy, a rejuvenation or renewal is always at the back of our minds. Reconciliation with oneself and self-acceptance make life more meaningful in the final count, and lifts the individual to a higher, deeper level.
Hence, an objective stock-taking, introspection or self-examination should be undertaken before putting down the broad outlines of any Resolutions. Remember what Socrates, a Greek philosopher, said: “…The unexamined life is not worth living…” This has stood the test of time as far back as over 400 years before Christ was born. In a world where we are encompassed by daily doubts, challenges and anxieties, the Christmas period could be a new start for self-determination.
We celebrate in diverse ways at Christmas but we should not lose sight of the real essence of the occasion, That is, Love came down as a baby. “…The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (Jn 1:14). We therefore thank God for all the good things and even sad ones which came our way in the past 365 days. We equally ask for Divine guidance and mercies in the forthcoming years, in the fulfillment of His plans in our lives. Throughout the feasting and merry-making, we should for a sincere prayer for a peaceful, prosperous future in our national affairs. Most importantly, Christian charity and moderation must permeate the Season of Goodwill.
Finally, to make this Christmas really meaningful, we are enjoined by a popular hymn to “…gladden all who meet (us) ; …fill their hearts with hope and courage…spread the peace and joy of Christ around… and make God known and loved…”
PEACE ON EARTH AND TO MEN (AND WOMEN) OF GOODWILL…