Christmas Spirit?

Trip Start May 22, 2009
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Trip End Feb 16, 2010


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Flag of Turkey  , Antalya Province,
Monday, December 14, 2009

Hard to believe there's only 10 days until Christmas.  Being in an Islamic country there aren't the reminders.  No commercials, no decorations, no store displays, no Sears Catalogue, no cards, no carols, no snow, no gingerbread.  Just normal life. 

Refreshing actually. 

I've never quite been into the hype of what usually ends up being the obsession of the season.  I'd prefer to keep it simple and focus on the true or gins of what the day is supposed to be about. 

Strangely enough, we were in the town of Noel Baba today.  St. Nicholas the real man on which much legend has evolved - a focus for many at this time of year. 

I can't really stand the Santa of today, but it sounds like Nick was a pretty decent guy.  Born in the 3rd c in Patara, he was orphaned at a young age.  Inheriting quite a bit of money from the death of his parents, he didn't spend it on himself.  As a dedicated Christian, he tried to follow Christ's words:  'sell what you own and give to the poor'.  But being a shy man, he could only give in secret.  Poor families would find 'gifts' and all sorts of good deeds caused the villagers to extend gratitude in the same vein.  The most famous story revolves around a poor family who had 3 daughters.  Having no way to pay a dowry for them to marry, the girls would be forced into slavery or prostitution.  When the first came to marrying age, Nicholas threw a bag of gold through the window late in the night.  When the second came to marrying age, he did the same.  Desperate to find out who was blessing their family, when the 3rd daughter came to marrying age they posted watch at the doors and windows.  Nicholas supposedly climbed up onto the roof and dropped the bag of gold down the chimney to try and remain anonymous. 

Great guy.  Most of all he loved Jesus and tried to live his life according to His will.  He was even persecuted, exiled and imprisioned for his beliefs.  It's easy to see how these stories have evolved into the legends we tell today.  Funny how we cling to these ideas and blow them up to large magnitude all while forgetting about what lies beneath.

Even what we celebrate today is a fairly recent invention.  It wasn't until the 1800's that the beloved 'night before Christmas' was written, and the early 1900's that Coke helped develop who we identify to be as 'Santa'.  As for the North Pole and elves...no comment. 

Other customs we quickly follow come from various roots and origins - some not as rosy as Nicholas.  Yet we must do it - all in the 'Christmas Spirit'. 

What was the 'Christian Spirit' that Nicholas followed? 

I wonder what he would think if he saw what has erupted from his name.,  Would he be pleased?Does it measure up to what he was trying to accomplish with his life?

As we run around stressing out over all the things we must do to get everything right for the perfect Christmas, think about what you're trying to accomplish.  Most often it can't be wrapped in a paper and tied with a bow...Spirit cannot be seen or touched, merely felt.  I pray that the true spirit of Christmas will bless you this year. 
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