Christmas spirit is about selflessness

Published 12:03am Sunday, December 22, 2013

Only three days until the big day arrives, and for thousands of area children, time cannot move fast enough.

Christmas is a holiday rife with traditions, but mostly we associate the day with gifts.

From an early age the holiday is a bit of a selfish one for most American children. Years ago, children of my generation pored over the annual holiday wish book catalogs from the dominant retailers at the time.

It’s a holiday of “I want” early on. But at some point — perhaps parenthood, or at least adulthood, is the key — the Christmas season turns from a selfish holiday to a selfless holiday.

Hopefully, that’s because we seek to emulate the example given to us by Christ, the whole reason Christmas exists in the first place.

Julie and I are enjoying our first Christmas with Anna this year. Anna’s in that interesting time of her life where she hasn’t yet developed the selfish, “I want,” attitude about life.

She doesn’t want the latest and greatest electronic toy, though she’s fascinated with anything with a screen — phone, TV, computer, etc.

No, mostly at this stage Anna is just about the experiences in life. She’s far too young to know it yet, but she’s already experienced a great deal of selfless generosity in her life — all in the Christmas spirit.

Santa will almost certainly bring her some good things this year and, like many babies, she may find the boxes and wrapping paper of more interest.

But the most fun I’ve had with her at Christmas was holding her in the front seat of our car, parked outside Ed and Deanna Bowser’s house on North Raintree Street in Natchez.

The cul-de-sac on which the Bowsers live has long had a number of residents filled with the Christmas spirit. That neighborhood was one of the regular stops the newspaper’s photographers would make while seeking pretty pictures of nighttime Christmas lights.

If you haven’t seen or heard about Bowser’s light display, check out the story in today’s Style section about the neighborhood’s holiday traditions.

Bowser spends months of work creating an audio-visual display on his front lawn. Lights turn on and off in a carefully choreographed display to holiday songs piped into your car’s FM radio.

Anna giggled with delight as the lights burst to life just outside the front windshield.

Arms and legs flailed wildly as her eyes searched for the best place to stop and stare before another area erupted with light.

She had a ball, and I’m sure countless others have enjoyed Bowser’s labor of love as well.

His investment of time is truly a great gift to area children — and adults as well.

He’s not the only one who works hard to bring holiday cheer to the area, from the Christmas light displays on the Natchez bluff and the Vidalia Riverfront to the city’s official tree in the middle of Main Street, dozens and dozens work hard to make sure our area has a festive atmosphere. For all of those who work to make the season a little brighter for others, I say a hearty, “Thank you,” for all of the little girls and boys who giggle with delight when they see your work.

Merry Christmas to each of you and thank you for reading your newspaper.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.