Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Published 11:00 am Monday, December 26, 2022

Christmas has always been one of my favorite times of year. Just before Thanksgiving, I’m that guy who starts cranking up the Christmas music, hanging a little mistletoe, and getting the fireplace ready — time for some good old fashioned Christmas movie watching and hot chocolate drinking — and yes, good food enjoying.

What a blessing for winter clothes that help hide the waistline. It is indeed a great time of year!

As the years go by, I also find joy in sharing the love of the holidays with people of diverse backgrounds. The great thing about America is that we are a melting pot, and the American Dream is available to people of every faith, nationality and color.

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Last week, I had the pleasure of enjoying an Uber ride with a gentleman from the Ivory Coast, Africa. We talked about the holidays, our families, and most importantly, our love for this country. It absolutely made my Christmas to hear this lovely man talk about the opportunities he had discovered during his 20 years in “the land of the free – the home of the brave.”

Ironically I had just left a visit with French Ambassador Philippe Etienne where, standing in front of his residence in Washington we had admired the “Little Sister” of the Statue of Liberty, a scaled replica of the original, cast from the same mold used by sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi as he designed the famous gift from France that stands in New York Harbor as a beacon to the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” I had shared with the Ambassador that my own great-grandparents, arriving from England in the late 1800s were some of those “huddled masses.”

What a blessing it is to live in a country that celebrates its diversity – a country that truly has been a “melting pot” for more than two centuries. Now, thanks to so many sons and daughters of immigrants who fought for liberty, my father being one of them, we can now truly enjoy a nation where freedom is available to all. And we must never lose our appreciation for that – nor should we lose our appreciation of our diversity, for it is that diversity that truly makes us great and worthy of living that American Dream.

A few years ago, there was great controversy over the use of the terms “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays.” A national debate ensued, and many felt that their traditions of Christmas were being threatened. Whether or not this was actually the case, I do believe we as a people have made great progress since that time in developing an appreciation for our diversity and a needed sensitivity to it.

As a Christian, I am one who truly enjoys saying Merry Christmas. For me “Jesus is the reason for the Season,” and I love to sing the songs about His birth, light and joy coming into the world, our Emmanuel – God with us. As an American, I have also grown to appreciate the fact that ours is a nation of many cultures, and it is important to maintain a respect for all. One thing that brings me joy is knowing that over the past couple of years we as a city have incorporated both a Jewish menorah and Kwanzaa display into our decorations during the holidays.

As a season of love, this is a time to be kind – to show compassion to those who are in need – and as such, summon “the better angels of our nature” in extending friendship and kindness to one another.

For me, this truly is the greatest meaning of Christmas. And when the saying is repeated “let it be Christmas every day,” what we truly should mean is let every day be a day for sharing love and light, having kindness and respect for one another, for even those whose customs and beliefs are different from our own, for even those who choose to worship a different way or not to worship at all.

So Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! And may the blessings of peace be yours. Natchez Deserves More.


Dan M. Gibson is mayor of Natchez.